Abortion Reproductive Rights

Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women

The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.

via  Shutterstock
via Shutterstock

The state’s Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be “medically necessary.” Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of “medically necessary” arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.

The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.

Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.

“By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of ‘equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law’,” the ruling read.

“We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women’s health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution,” said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. “Every Alaskan woman, regardless of income, should be able to make the pregnancy decision that’s best for herself and her family.”

Access to full and unrestricted Medicaid coverage for Alaskan women seeking an abortion is critical. One in ten Alaskan women is living in poverty, and poverty rates are especially high for single mothers, women of color, and elderly women.

Media Resources: RH Reality Check 1/31/14; ACLU of Alaska 8/27/15; Feminist Newswire 7/18/14; Spotlight on Poverty, Alaska 2015; NWLC Data 2013;

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