ANCHORAGE, AK — Today, a state Superior Court in Alaska granted Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaiʻi, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky (PPGNHAIK) its motion for a preliminary injunction, halting part of a state law that prohibits qualified health care providers, such as nurse practitioners and certified nurse midwives, from providing medication abortion, a method of ending an early pregnancy that is safer than some commonly used over-the-counter and prescription medications such as Tylenol and Viagra.
The preliminary injunction expands the types of qualified health care professionals who can provide medication abortion beyond physicians. These health professionals already lawfully prescribe the same medications to treat patients experiencing a miscarriage, and regularly provide more complex health care. Alaska’s Advanced Practice Clinician (APC) ban restricts health care access across the state, particularly among Alaskans already facing a range of health care access inequities and barriers that were only compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. This medically unnecessary law, like most abortion restrictions, disproportionately harms Alaska’s most underserved communities.
This case will proceed to trial in July 2022, where PPGNHAIK will seek to make this ruling permanent and further expand access for qualified health care professionals to provide not only medication abortion but other safe, early abortion and miscarriage care.
Statement from Hannah Brass Greer, Chief Legal Counsel for Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaiʻi, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky (PPGNHAIK):
“Today’s ruling is a victory for the people of Alaska and access to abortion. This outdated requirement has unjustly restricted patient access to abortion services in a medically underserved state for too long.
“A quarter of Alaska residents live in nonmetropolitan communities with fewer than 2,500 people and are less likely to receive reproductive health care services. Advanced Practice Clinicians (APCs) can safely provide abortion services and we are glad the court agrees. Health care providers are compassionate, skilled medical professionals who should be able to do the job they are trained to do without undue government interference. Everyone deserves access to safe sexual and reproductive health care, and by removing this unnecessary restriction, we will begin to bridge a gap in accessing this time sensitive care for people in Alaska no matter where they live.”
Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“Today’s ruling is a critical victory that will increase much-needed abortion access across Alaska for everyone who needs it. Medication abortion services performed by nurse practitioners and certified nurse midwives are safe, effective, and necessary. The removal of this medically-unnecessary restriction on qualified health care providers’ ability to deliver essential care will help eliminiate delays in accessing abortion as well as emotional and financial harm to pregnant Alaskans.”
Statement from Kim Clark, senior attorney, Legal Voice
“Today’s ruling is great news for the many Alaskans, especially those from the most underserved communities, who face tremendous barriers to accessing abortion care due to this medically unnecessary abortion restriction. These are the same communities who also face disproportionately high rates of unintended pregnancy and negative pregnancy outcomes as a result of the long legacy of systemic racism and reproductive oppression and coercion in the United States. As exciting as this ruling is, though, it also underscores how different abortion access will look from state to state should the Supreme Court gut the protections of Roe v. Wade, as many expect it will do this term.”
PPGNHAIK is represented by its Chief Legal Counsel, Hannah Brass Greer, along with attorneys from Legal Voice, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Stoel Rives LLP.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable sexual and reproductive health care for all people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect, and without judgment, striving to create equitable access to health care. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable education and information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives. Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that supports the independently incorporated Planned Parenthood affiliates operating health centers across the U.S.
Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai‘i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky (PPGNHAIK) is a leading sexual and reproductive health care provider and advocate. The organization operates 40 health centers in Alaska, Hawai‘i, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, and Western Washington and provides medical services and sexuality education for thousands of people each year. Planned Parenthood is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization and relies heavily on charitable donations to ensure our patients' ability to determine their own destinies and receive the health care they need.
Legal Voice is a progressive feminist organization using the power of the law to make positive change for women, girls, and LGBTQ people in the Northwest. Legal Voice uses ground-breaking litigation, legislative advocacy, and community education to fight gender oppression and injustice. More at legalvoice.org.