- Associated Press - Thursday, August 3, 2017

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Abortion-rights advocates and the state of Alaska have asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit they say became moot after the state medical board adopted new regulations for abortions after the first trimester.

Attorneys for Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands and for the state jointly filed a motion Wednesday seeking dismissal of the case brought by Planned Parenthood.

The lawsuit, which was filed last year, had been on hold pending final actions by the medical board. The new rules took effect last month.

The board, prodded by the lawsuit, eliminated a requirement that a doctor consult with another doctor before performing an abortion after the 12th week of gestation.

It also scrapped a rule requiring that blood and an operating room “appropriately staffed and equipped for major surgery” be “immediately available” for abortions after the first trimester.

The challenged provisions dated to the 1970s.

The rule regarding the availability of blood and an operating room was replaced with a provision stating that, from the time a fetus becomes viable, an abortion may only be performed at a hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit. A doctor would make the determination on viability.

In its lawsuit, Planned Parenthood also cited as problematic a failure by Alaska’s health department to establish criteria for facilities, such as outpatient clinics, that want to provide second-trimester abortions. That issue was separate from the medical board’s actions.

Susan Orlansky, an attorney for Planned Parenthood, said her clients felt the new regulations addressed enough of the concerns.

In a statement, Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Katie Rogers said the organization is glad to see “these antiquated laws changed.”

“This is a win for women in Alaska who had to travel out of state to access the care they need,” she said. “Women in Alaska deserve the right to have access to a full range of reproductive health care, and now they do.”

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