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Harmful Alaska regulation that discriminates against low-income women temporarily blocked

Significant victory for Medicaid-eligible women in accessing the full range of reproductive health care

(PRESS RELEASE) An Alaska Superior Court has extended the Temporary Restraining Order which temporarily blocks a harmful regulation that could severely restrict abortion access for low-income women.

“This decision ensures that Alaskan women facing difficult economic circumstances will not have crucial insurance coverage taken away if they need to end a pregnancy,” said Janet Crepps, senior counsel with the Center for Reproductive Rights. “The Alaska state constitution protects women against discrimination in the provision of insurance coverage for the full range of reproductive health care, and we will continue to defend this right against those who seek to take it away.”

The regulation is blocked at least until a trial on the merits, which is currently scheduled for late April.

“We’re extremely pleased that the judge understood the impact this regulation would have on low-income women,” said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest.  “This win is a critical step in the legal challenge.  Planned Parenthood will continue this fight until the regulation is permanently blocked.”

The regulation seeks to circumvent a 2001 decision by the Alaska Supreme Court that the state cannot discriminate in the provision of services under the Medicaid program, and must cover abortions determined to be medically necessary by a woman’s physician. 

“Politicians should never treat medical coverage, including abortion coverage, like a game of keep-away,” said Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project.   “We should use the resources we have to get women the health care they need.”

Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest (PPGNW) is represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Alaska, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Susan Orlansky of Anchorage.