Today, a trial will begin in a state superior court in Alaska in a lawsuit to expand abortion access in the state by permanently blocking a physician-only law that prevents advanced practice clinicians (APCs) — such as physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and certified nurse midwives — to provide both medication and aspiration abortion, even though it is in the scope of their practice. This APC ban is the only law in Alaska that targets the type of care APCs can provide.
Based on the barriers to access caused by the APC ban, Planned Parenthood asserts that the law violates people in Alaska’s fundamental right to abortion and the state constitution’s equal protection guarantee. Witnesses are expected to testify that the law delays access to abortion without any medical benefit and causes particular harm to people in Alaska living in rural areas and people experiencing intimate partner violence.
The APC ban, blocked under a preliminary injunction since 2021, limits abortion access for people in Alaska and directly contradicts guidance from all leading medical organizations, which makes clear that APCs should be able to provide this medical procedure. These providers are a critical source of health care, especially in rural areas of the state where access may otherwise be limited, and they safely provide abortion in other states.
“Every person in Alaska deserves the freedom to seek abortion from trusted health care providers in their own community,” said Rebecca Gibron, CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai’i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky (PPGNHAIK). “Allowing advanced practice clinicians to provide abortion will ensure that patients are able to better access the time-sensitive care they need. We are hopeful that this court will again rule in favor of reproductive freedom and permanently block this outdated and medically unnecessary restriction.”
The lawsuit, brought on behalf of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai’i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky (PPGNHAIK), was initially filed in 2019. PPGNHAIK is represented by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, ACLU of Alaska, Legal Voice, and Stoel Rives LLP.