The ACLU, Center for Reproductive Rights, and Planned Parenthood Have Leveled a Coordinated Legal Strike on Restrictive Abortion Laws in Three States

A great deal of national attention recently has been drawn to abortion rights — and justifiably so. The president-elect has vowed to nominate justices committed to overturning Roe v. Wade. And yesterday he nominated Rep. Tom Price for Secretary of Health and Human Services. Price is a man who at every opportunity has voted to take away people’s access to health care, to deny women the right to have an abortion, to cut off access to contraception, and to defund Planned Parenthood.

But while we worry about the future of abortion rights at the federal level, far too many women  wake up in states where their right to abortion remains so inaccessible that the right is more theoretical than real. And that is because of state laws like those we are challenging today which are expressly designed to prevent a woman who has decided to have an abortion from actually getting one.

Today the ACLU has joined forces with the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood in a new wave of lawsuits to protect and expand access to abortion.  Together, we simultaneously filed three challenges to medically unnecessary abortion restrictions in Alaska, Missouri, and North Carolina.

Women have a constitutional right to decide whether to end or continue a pregnancy, and the Supreme Court has consistently upheld this right. Just this summer — in their landmark decision striking down Texas’ abortion restrictions that closed clinics across the state — the court reaffirmed that laws that impose a burden on women’s access to abortion must be balanced by some medical benefit. Since the ruling, abortion restrictions in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Oklahoma and Wisconsin have already been struck down or been permanently blocked. 

The law is clear: States cannot ban abortion.

But laws in Missouri and Alaska impose burdens on health care centers, reminiscent of the restrictions struck down by the Supreme Court.  Missouri regulations require facilities providing abortions to be outfitted like mini-hospitals. Because of the regulations, only one licensed provider remains to serve over one million women in  the state.

Meanwhile, regulations in Alaska require clinics to be equipped and staffed for “major” surgery. The requirement is so vague and confusing that the people who are subject to these requirements have no way to know what kinds of actions would violate them.

Other regulations in Alaska that date back 40 years prevent health centers from providing abortions after the first trimester of pregnancy. For many Alaskan women, that means traveling out of state to access the care they need. 

In North Carolina, an unconstitutional law that we challenged today bans abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy with exceptions only for extremely narrow medical emergencies.. By doing so, the law forces physicians to delay from caring for women until their condition imposes an immediate threat of death or major medical damage. The law is a threat to the dignity and health of women who seek care, not rejection, from medical professionals.

We filed today’s lawsuits to send a clear message: From Alaska to North Carolina — and every state in between — we will continue to fight until every woman has the dignity to make decisions about her body, her family, and her future. Our bodies, our rights, and our clinics are not going anywhere.  

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Anonymous

We urgently need your help in Texas. The new fetal tissue burial/cremation rule will go into effect 12/19/16 if it isn't legally challenged. This isn't just about women's rights, this is an assault on low income and minority women. PLEASE HELP NOW!!!

Helen Hunter

I just read that the head of the litigation division of Center for Reproductive Rights is considering how best to respond to this rotten Texas law.
ACLU, are you in touch with CRR, or have your own plans?

Anonymous

Ohio's Women's Medical Center of Dayton seems like they may need some help. As well as Texas very soon requirement that tissue receive a burial.

anonymous

Thank you for leading the fight for keeping the right for all women to have access to abortions and medical care from Planned Parenthood. I would have thought by now this would not be an issue.

Anonymous

They aren't fighting for that. It's an issue because they are using women as pawns in a political fight. They don't care about anything but making the Republicans have to take a stand so they can say "Look at those nasty Republicans" so that in 2 years they can try to win back seats from the Republicans. Why haven't they joined forces in the last 8 years? Why haven't they fought these exact battles in Alaska and Missouri in the last 8 years? Because they use women as pawns in their political fight, not because they give a damn about women's access to abortions.

Anonymous

How can we support the NC lawsuit? I have a friend who had to terminate a very much wanted pregnancy at 19 weeks. They'd just discovered the fetus had a fatal physical ailment. Unfortunately, the parents had to do all their research, second-opinion seeking, and planning over a matter of days so as not to extend into 20 weeks and be prevented from doing what was best for the child and mother.

Old Father

Just what we all need, more Old Men telling Women what to do.

Way to go Mr. Price. You only USED to be a doctor.

Anonymous

To everyone who cries for unborn babies, how much money have you donated past year to homeless shelters for abused women with children or any other cause that tries to help children living in poverty? If the answer is $0 then you're the textbook definition of a hypocrite = a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion.

Lani Phillips

I am normally a Pro Choice proponent but the ACLU fight against NC 20 week ban does not fit my support. If a woman has sex without protection she needs to take responsibility for this irresponsible choice! If she doesn't make a decision prior to 5 months, I agree she should not be allowed to abort the pregnancy. I have had 2 miscarriages, Ovarian and Endometrial Cancer. I Never had the beautiful experience of carrying a child full term. Never at 5 months felt the first kick. I have however - opposing but helping a friend who wanted help for her daughter. I took this young woman 19 years old to an abortion clinic in Alexandria, Va.. We arrived she checked in and we sat and waited. As we sat there there were people in the waiting room telling jokes. Talking happily on cell phones and with the person with them. This young girl and I sat there listening. I was horrified to be there to begin with but to sit there and watch these people acting like they are going to have their teeth cleaned instead of going in to kill a child inside of them. These religious right Assholes need to get out there and provide birth control pills to women and men (when they become available as well as condoms to every child if requested from 13 years up. Stop putting your heads in the sand and do something about this. If a woman goes beyond 20 weeks - she should be required to carry full term with government support and then out the child up for adoption!

Anonymous

Apart from the fact that your statement of "she needs to take responsibility for this irresponsible choice!" makes it sound like your only goal is to punish a woman for getting pregnant, there are usually other things at play. Abortions at 20 weeks are not for shits and giggles. It's not someone that just changed their mind months into the pregnancy. The price of an abortion that late is usually double or more than one at 10 weeks. I've heard of someone paying upwards of 1$0,000 for an abortion at the 20 week mark. where a friend of mine had a medical abortion that ran her about $400. People are not using this as a 'birth control method', it's usually because of a fatal deformity or some other issue.

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