Planned Parenthood has filed lawsuits challenging abortion laws in three states, saying they put unconstitutional barriers in the way of women who want to obtain abortions.
The group, along with the American Civil Liberties Union and Center for Reproductive Rights, filed the lawsuits Wednesday.
In North Carolina, they are looking to strike down the state’s ban on abortions performed after 20 weeks gestation except in the instance of a medical emergency. In Missouri, the groups are challenging laws requiring that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at hospitals and that abortions only be performed in ambulatory surgery centers. The groups argue that most women in the state need to travel to one clinic in St. Louis to get abortions. The laws are similar to Texas restrictions struck down by the Supreme Court in June.
And in Alaska, the groups are challenging a state law that bans abortion in outpatient health centers after the first trimester of pregnancy, claiming it forces many women to leave the state to obtain an abortion after the first trimester.
“Now more than ever, we face a serious threat to women’s reproductive rights, but the reality is abortion access is already deeply restricted for many women in this country,” said Julie Rikelman, interim vice president of the U.S. legal program at the Center for Reproductive Rights.
The groups said that they have concerns about the incoming Trump administration. President-elect Donald Trump has praised Planned Parenthood in the past, but threatened during the campaign to defund it. Trump said that he opposes abortion and will appoint antiabortion judges to the Supreme Court. Vice President-elect Mike Pence has made attempting to defund Planned Parenthood one of his biggest crusades, introducing the first legislation to do so while he was in Congress in the 1990s — and congressional Republicans now see a major opening for the effort. Trump’s choice for health and human services secretary, Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), has also supported defunding efforts.
“This is the biggest threat we have seen, to be frank,” said Raegan McDonald-Mosley, chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
But the advocates said that access to women’s health services, particularly abortion, has already been chipped away on the state level for years with laws like the ones that were challenged Wednesday.
“States across the country have quietly enacted laws that restrict a women’s right to have an abortion,” said Jennifer Dalven, director of the ACLU’s reproductive freedom project. “The reality is in many places across our country today, a woman cannot get an abortion if she needs one.”