Planned Parenthood, ACLU and others sue Alaska of abortion regulation changes

Several organizations filed a lawsuit Wednesday challenging a regulation change that would require abortion providers who bill Medicaid to reimburse the procedure, to further define what constitutes a “medically necessary” reason to have the procedure.

The change, scheduled to go into affect Feb. 2, is being challenged in Alaska Superior Court by Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union and lawyer Susan Orlansky, of Anchorage.

Opponents of the new regulation said the state is trying to circumvent a 2001 Alaska Supreme Court decision that said the state could not discriminate in the type of services it provided Medicaid reimbursement for, meaning it must provide reimbursement for abortions the physician deemed medically necessary.

If the new regulations take effect, low-income women will be disproportionately affected, said Treasure Mackley, political and organizing director of Planned Parenthood of the Greater Northwest in an interview earlier in January.

“Every Alaskan woman, regardless of income, should be able to make the pregnancy decision that’s best for her,” said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, according to a media release. “The Alaska Supreme Court has already ruled that women’s pregnancy decision must be given equal protection under the law. Politicians and government officials in Juneau should not decide what is ‘medically necessary’ — that’s a private matter between a woman and her doctor.”

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