WASHINGTON ― As they prepare for a potentially massive threat to abortion access under the Donald Trump administration, Planned Parenthood and two of its allies on Wednesday announced a slew of new legal battles against abortion restrictions in Missouri, Alaska and North Carolina.
The three lawsuits, filed jointly by Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union, aim to overturn state laws that make it difficult for women to exercise their constitutional right to abortion. The groups are challenging an Alaska law that prohibits outpatient centers from providing abortions in the first trimester; a North Carolina law that bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy except in dire medical emergencies and a pair of Missouri laws that require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a local hospital and all abortions to take place in ambulatory surgical centers, which are essentially mini-hospitals.
In addition to being unconstitutional, the laws are “medically unnecessary, deceptive, and they take away women’s basic dignity and autonomy,” Julie Rikelman, a lead attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, told reporters.
The center won a Supreme Court case in June against a pair of Texas laws that are nearly identical to the ones the groups are challenging in Missouri. The high court ruled that the so-called “TRAP” laws ― Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers ― had nothing to do with women’s health and imposed an “undue burden” on women’s access to safe and legal abortion services.
“We’re continuing to defend the right of women to make the basic decisions that affect their health, their lives, their families, and their futures,” Rikelman said.
As the groups move forward with their lawsuits, President-elect Trump is filling his cabinet with staunch opponents of abortion rights. His pick for Health and Human Services Secretary, Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), co-sponsored a bill in 2005 that would have given personhood rights to a zygote from the moment of conception, effectively outlawing abortion and some forms of birth control. Price also opposes birth control coverage under the Affordable Care Act and supports defunding Planned Parenthood.
“We’ve been around for 100 years, and we intend to be for 100 more, but this is the biggest threat we have seen, to be frank,” said Dr. Reagan McDonald-Mosley, Planned Parenthood’s chief medical officer.
McDonald-Mosley said more than 200,000 people have donated to Planned Parenthood in the past few weeks to help the family planning provider defend itself against the new administration.
“When these specific attacks do happen, we’re prepared to advocate for our patients,” she said.