Anchorage (KTUU) A lawsuit by abortion rights activists prompted the State Medical board to change policies restricting where abortions beyond the first trimester can be performed. Both Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands and the State of Alaska have now agreed to end the lawsuit.
Emergency regulations adopted in 1970 and adjusted in 1973 required both blood and an operating room equipped for major surgery be “immediately available.”
“As a result these outpatient procedures that are normally very safe, they’re akin to a vasectomy or to a colonoscopy, really had to be within a hospital setting and in Alaska we just didn’t have any of those,” said Tara Rich with ACLU of Alaska.
The new regulation reads in part, “…when a fetus becomes viable, as determined by those medical examinations and tests that in the physician’s professional judgment are necessary, an abortion may only be performed at a hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit.”
“Faced with regulations that were 40 years out of date they decided to update them to reflect developments in medical practice in respect to abortion,” said Chief Assistant Attorney General Margaret Paton Walsh.
After the changes were adopted in May both parties agreed to end litigation.
“This is a win for women in Alaska who had to travel out of state to access the care they need. Women in Alaska deserve the right to have access to a full range of reproductive health care, and now they do,” said Jessica Cler with Planned Parenthood in Alaska.
The Executive Director of Alaska Right to Life argued the original rules didn’t make getting an abortion after the 1st trimester difficult, “It’s a sad day in Alaska when radical left wing groups can bully and intimate the state medical board into changing regulations to be bad for women and children,” said Christopher Kurka.
The ACLU of Alaska says the dismissed lawsuit allows it to challenge any issues that may come up from the same regulations in the future.