Planned Parenthood Files Lawsuits In 3 States To Protect Abortion Access

Photo: Albin Lohr-Jones/Getty Images.
Just weeks after an unprecedented increase in donations — including $20,000 from "Mike Pence" — Planned Parenthood affiliates have filed lawsuits in three states that challenge unnecessary restrictions to abortion. The organization has teamed up with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Center for Reproductive Rights to file the suits, which are aimed at laws in Alaska, Missouri, and North Carolina that make it difficult (if not impossible) for patients to receive care. For instance, restrictions in Alaska ban abortions after the first trimester of a pregnancy in outpatient facilities, making it necessary for many patients to travel out of state to receive care. In North Carolina, a ban on abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy in almost all circumstances similarly makes it necessary for patients to go elsewhere for care. And restrictions on providers in Missouri have left the state with only a single facility allowed to provide abortions. Unfortunately, it is those women who "already face far too many barriers to healthcare as people of color, people who live in rural areas, or people with low incomes," who are most affected by such restrictions, said Raegan McDonald-Mosley, MD, chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood Federation of America in a press conference today. "These laws are dangerous, unjust, and unconstitutional — and they will come down." Plaintiffs in the suits include Planned Parenthood but also include other healthcare organizations and, in the North Carolina case, doctors in major hospitals in the state, such as Duke.

These laws are dangerous, unjust, and unconstitutional – and they will come down.

Raegan McDonald-Mosley, MD
These restrictions are similar to those struck down in a Supreme Court case earlier this year. The case, Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, centered on the restrictive HB2 bill, which would have imposed incredibly strict rules on abortion providers in Texas under the guise of making the procedures safer. The Supreme Court ruled that such medically unnecessary restrictions were unconstitutional, with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg writing, "It is beyond rational belief that HB2 could genuinely protect the health of women." So, if any of the three new cases makes it that far, Julie Rikelman of the Center for Reproductive Rights, who is one of the attorneys representing the case in North Carolina, is confident that the court would rule similarly against such laws — even under a Trump administration. "These are the kind [of restrictions] that are clearly unconstitutional," she said in a press conference today. "The precedent that protects this right for women has been enforced for over 40 years. It has withstood the test of time and been re-affirmed by a variety of justices appointed by a variety of administrations."

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