By Maggie Mallon. Photos: Getty Images.
On Wednesday, Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and the American Civil Liberties Union announced that they will join together to challenge restrictive abortion laws in Alaska, Missouri, and North Carolina in an effort to preserve and expand reproductive rights. Lawsuits were filed by the organizations in these three states in the hopes of striking down legislation that hinders women's access to safe and legal abortions.
In Alaska, outpatient health clinics are prohibited from performing abortions after the first trimester—resulting in many women traveling across state lines to get the care that they need—and the law dictates that these providers must be stocked with the same medical equipment required of a hospital. A similar measure mandating that clinics be outfitted with extensive equipment exists in Missouri, and, as a result, only one health care center can legally provide abortions exists within the entire state. As for North Carolina, the groups are fighting a law that criminalizes abortion in pregnancies beyond the 20-week mark except in extreme medical cases.
If the Alaska and Missouri laws sound familiar, it's because these restrictions are basically identical to the ones challenged in the Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt case that was decided by the Supreme Court earlier this year. The attempt by Texas legislators to enforce rigid regulations on abortion providers—which resulted in the closure of numerous clinics because they could not meet these ironclad standards—was ultimately struck down when the Court ruled that the restrictions did not provide any medical benefit to patients. Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and the Center for Reproductive Rights hope that the Whole Woman's Health decision will be the benchmark that their recently-filed cases will be measured against.
“We are going to fight back state by state and law by law until every person has the right to pursue the life they want, including the right to decide to end a pregnancy. Individual rights and freedom go to the heart of who we are as a country, including the right to access safe and legal abortion,” said Dr. Raegan McDonald-Mosley, chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood, in a statement on Wednesday. “As a leading health care provider, we see firsthand what it means for people who are forced to cross state lines, travel hundreds of miles, or wait weeks to get an abortion, if they can at all. These restrictions have a disproportionate impact on those who already face far too many barriers to health care as people of color, people who live in rural areas, or people with low incomes. These laws are dangerous, unjust, and unconstitutional – and they will come down.”
In addition to challenging the Alaska, Missouri and Texas laws, the organizations are reportedly considering challenging the new health rules in Texas that will require fetal remains to be cremated or buried. With the number of restrictive abortion laws increasing—and a decidedly anti-choice administration soon to enter the White House—its unlikely that the three lawsuits filed on Wednesday will be the last of them.
This story originally appeared on Glamour.
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