Pro-choice groups sue to protect abortion access in Alaska

[JURIST] The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Center for Reproductive Rights [advocacy websites] filed a lawsuit [press release] on Wednesday in Alaska Superior Court [official website] challenging a new regulation that seeks to prevent Medicaid [official website] from covering elective abortions. In 2001 the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that the state must cover a full range of reproductive health rights under its Medicaid program, including medically necessary abortion. The new regulation, which is set to go into effect on February 2, establishes criteria that purportedly restrict the ability of low-income women to access this service. Paperwork for Medicaid reimbursement requests will include two boxes [Reuters report] for doctors to check. One box asks if the woman was a victim of rape or incest while the other is checked if the doctor deems the procedure medically necessary.

There has been much controversy surroundingreproductive rights [JURIST backgrounder] in the US. In November a judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Indiana issued a temporary injunction [JURIST report] against an Indiana law regulating abortion facilities. Also in November Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne petitioned [JURIST report] the US Supreme Court to reinstate an Arizona law and overturn the holding of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which in August struck down [JURIST report] a law that would strip Medicaid funding from doctors and clinics that perform abortions. In October a federal judge dismissed a challenge [JURIST report] to Arizona's race based abortion laws. In May a federal court struck down the state's 20-week abortion ban [JURIST report]. Some scholars have contended that lawsuits challenging state regulations excluding abortion from comprehensive insurance plans could be the vehicle through which courts can reframe the constitutional basis of abortion rights [JURIST op-ed].

 

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