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Judge allows non-physicians to provide chemical abortion while legal challenge proceeds against licensed physician requirement

by | Nov 4, 2021

By Dave Andrusko

Superior Court Judge Josie Garton on Tuesday granted a  preliminary injunction which will allow nonphysician health care providers, such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants, to provide chemical—“medication”—abortions while the underlying legal challenge proceeds. 

According to Becky Bohrer of the Associated Press, “The case is set for trial in July, where Planned Parenthood will seek to make this ruling permanent and further expand access for qualified health care professionals to provide not only medication abortion but other safe, early abortion and miscarriage care, the organization said in a statement.” The Alaska Board of Nursing has rejected requests for non-physicians to provide aspiration procedures to treat miscarriages.

Judge Garton was certainly the right judge to petition. She said that for Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky “has shown that it is likely to succeed on the merits of its claim that prohibiting advanced practice clinicians from providing medication abortion violates patients’ right to privacy under the Alaska Constitution by significantly restricting the availability of abortions in this state without sufficient justification.”

She added, “The law also likely violates patients’ right to equal protection, since it prevents patients seeking abortions from receiving care from advanced practice clinicians that patients experiencing miscarriage may receive from the same providers.”

In 2019 the organization filled a lawsuit against a law that prohibits anyone other than a licensed physician from performing abortions.

The Alaska Department of Law is representing the state in this case. Spokesman Aaron Sandler said the department plans “to proceed with the case and defend the statute” which he said was enacted in 1970. 

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