Abortion has been legal in Alaska for more than 50 years, since before the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling. But that doesn’t mean much if pregnant people can’t get the care that’s their legal right.
Laws designed to curb access to providers have made that hard, but Alaska also suffers from a shortage of physicians, particularly those specializing in women’s health. As a result, many Alaskans rely on nurse practitioners, physicians assistants, and other advanced practice clinicians (APCs) to meet their primary and reproductive health care needs. APCs deliver babies and care for pregnant patients experiencing miscarriages using identical medications as those used for early abortion care.
Despite the critical role APCs play in providing health care to Alaskans, and even though early abortion care is extraordinarily safe, Alaska law singles out abortion and makes it a crime for APCs—even those supervised by physicians—to provide this care. That’s just wrong.
Today, we partnered with Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands to challenge Alaska's unfair law in court. Our argument is simple: These restrictions are medically unjustified, and they violate Alaskans’ constitutional rights.
A range of medical authorities, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, have concluded that laws prohibiting APCs from providing abortion care are medically unfounded. Moreover, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates pharmaceuticals, allows APCs to provide medication abortion.
Banning these highly skilled, highly qualified professionals from providing this care, significantly constrains when and where abortion is available in Alaska. As a result, many women seeking abortion face significant and expensive travel burdens and delayed access to care. This disproportionately harms those who already face systemic barriers to health care, including people of color, people with low incomes, and people living in rural areas.
So, once again, we’re fighting for access to safe, effective, and affordable abortion care, particularly among communities who, because of this nation’s long history of reproductive control and coercion, may be reluctant to seek care in the first place.