Following the landmark Supreme Court decision, abortion services in Alaska remain legal and protected by the state’s constitution, under the state’s privacy clause and multiple Alaska Supreme Court rulings. But that could change if the constitution changes, either through an amendment or a constitutional convention — both of which are actively pursued by anti-abortion groups in the state.
At the national level, the impact of the repeal of Roe v. Wade Profound: About half of the states are expected to go into effect Bans or other restrictions on the procedure take effect. As of Friday, abortion is illegal in seven states, and many more bans are expected to go into effect soon.
And while abortion remains safe and legal in Alaska, the state still imposes financial and other barriers to accessing this service.
Here’s an overview of what abortion access looks like in Alaska.
What are the current state regulations on abortion?
In Alaska, you are required to visit an abortion provider’s clinic in person to receive any type of abortion service, including a medical (pill) abortion. This poses a major challenge for Alaskans in rural parts of the state, who have to travel long distances to access medical care.
Additionally, there are few legal restrictions in Alaska, said Susan Orlansky, a longtime trial attorney in Anchorage and currently a cooperating attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska.
While some states have laws and statutes that dictate how far into a pregnancy an abortion can be legally performed, Alaska has no pregnancy restrictions on abortions, Orlansky said.
In the absence of state laws, abortion restrictions are decided by individual providers.
There are currently no providers in Alaska that will perform an abortion after the second trimester; Patients travel to Seattle to access care later in their pregnancy, Rose O’Hara-Jolley, Alaska state director at Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates of Alaska, said in an email.
What Types of Abortions Are Available in Alaska?
There are two types of abortions: by birth control pills or by a more complicated procedure at a medical clinic. According to Planned Parenthood, birth control pill abortions can be performed during the first 11 weeks of pregnancy.
Pill abortions, which accounted for about a third of all abortions performed in Alaska last year, work by taking two prescriptions Medications spaced days apart to quickly terminate an early pregnancy.
The abortion pill differs from the Plan B emergency contraceptive, which can prevent pregnancy altogether and must be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex.
While some states allow abortion pill medications to be prescribed via a telemedicine appointment and mailed, in Alaska abortion pills must be taken in person at a clinic.
Procedural abortions — sometimes called surgical abortions, although they don’t actually involve surgery — can be performed during the first or second trimester.
How many abortions are performed in the state?
According to a state report from the Alaska Division of Public Health, there were 1,226 abortions in Alaska in 2021. This is the latest year with publicly available data and is similar to other recent years.
The vast majority of these procedures – almost 94% – were performed during the first trimester.
Who is the typical abortion patient in Alaska?
Last year, the average abortion patient in Alaska was single, seeking the procedure for the first time (66.2%), was white (53.1%), and was between the ages of 20 and 30 (86.4%), according to state data.
About 52.7% of those who had an abortion in Alaska last year already had one or more children, and 43.8% qualified for Medicaid, while 39.5% paid for the procedure themselves. About 9.7% were aged 19 or younger.
Two-thirds of the abortion patients—about 67.9%—had a college education, while 25.1% had at least a post-secondary education.
Where can Alaskans go to access abortion services?
Planned Parenthood is the premier abortion provider in Alaska with clinics in Juneau, Fairbanks and Anchorage. O’Hara-Jolley said they believe there are some independent providers who offer abortions but don’t advertise publicly.
Can Alaskans Under 18 Access an Abortion Without Parental Consent?
Yes. In Alaska, parents are not required to consent to abortions or be notified that their child or teen is accessing this care. The Alaskan Supreme Court has ruled that the state constitution’s privacy clause applies to both pregnant minors and adults, Orlansky said.
Parental consent and parental notification laws were recently passed in Alaska, but both were struck down by the Alaskan Supreme Court, according to Orlansky.
How much does an abortion cost?
Abortion costs vary depending on how far along the pregnancy is, O’Hara-Jolley said. The maximum cost anyone could pay for an abortion in Alaska is $1,100.
Insurance companies are not required to include abortion as a covered benefit, and many require that a deductible be met first.
Abortions are almost always covered for Alaskans on Medicaid following a state Supreme Court ruling.
“Patients on Medicaid health insurance can come to Planned Parenthood to access abortion care because abortion is an essential health care concern,” O’Hara-Jolley said.
The organization also encourages patients to speak with a provider about what resources are available to help them access an abortion, O’Hara-Jolley added. The Northwest Abortion Access Fund is another resource patients may be eligible for.
Two potential threats to abortion access in Alaska are a constitutional convention and constitutional amendment. How likely are they?
Alaskans have a constitutional right to abortion in a 1997 ruling by the Alaskan Supreme Court, which stated, “Reproductive rights are fundamental and are inherent in the right to privacy articulated in Article I, Section 22 of the Alaskan Constitution.”
In November, Alaskans will vote on whether to convene a constitutional convention that could pave the way for a year-long process to amend the state constitution to allow for a nationwide ban on abortion. Opponents of abortion see a constitutional convention as the most likely route to a possible ban.
After the US Supreme Court Roe v. Wade, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy said he intends to introduce a resolution in the next legislative session on a proposed constitutional amendment “to answer the question of whether abortion should be a constitutional or an unprotected right.”
Passing a constitutional amendment would require the approval of two-thirds of the State House, two-thirds of the State Senate and a majority of participating voters in the next general election – something political observers say is unlikely.
Orlanski said constitutional amendment could move faster than a convention.
“We’ll be watching for that,” said Mara Kimmel, executive director of ACLU Alaska.
“Our law is, it’s rooted in the right to privacy that’s explicit in the Constitution, but abortion isn’t explicitly mentioned in the Constitution,” Kimmel said. “So if the constitution changes, our rights change.”
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