For Immediate Release: January 31st, 2014
Senator Gardner Critical of Unconstitutional Regulations, Which Draw Expensive and Predictable Lawsuit
“The State Plan Amendment will avert unintended pregnancies and reduce abortions in Alaska.”
-Senator Berta Gardner
JUNEAU – Today, Senator Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage) released a Legislative Research Report showing the cost the state of Alaska incurred in defending unconstitutional regulations. The report answers the question of the total costs associated with the 2001 Alaska Supreme Court Case, Planned Parenthood v. Perdue (3AN-98-07004 CI).
Senator Gardner commissioned the report after learning of the Administration’s attempts to circumvent the legislative process by adopting regulations which effectively enacted portions of SB49, currently under debate in the House Finance Committee.
“It was clear to me from the moment I heard about these regulations that they would be challenged, and subsequently, struck down just like last time. I was interested in knowing how much money the state wasted in defending regulations they knew were unconstitutional,” stated Senator Gardner.
The non-partisan Legislative Research Agency report reveals that the state paid a total of $618,000 in defense of the regulations, which were ultimately ruled unconstitutional.
Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest is suing the state Commissioner of Health and Social Services over the announcement of enactment of state regulations defining “medically necessary” for the purposes of Medicaid funded abortions.
“The court fight, which cost the state $618,000 in 2001, is likely to cost a million dollars or more in 2014. I expect that the regulations will again be struck down and we will be on the hook for litigation costs,” said Senator Gardner.
In 2001 The Alaska Supreme Court deemed unconstitutional the state regulations defining medically necessary abortions. The court further set a standard for state intervention in these situations, saying the state needed to show compelling state interest before infringing on a constitutional right.
“I fail to see what the compelling state interest is here,” said Senator Gardner “the Commissioner’s stated purpose for enacting these regulations is to measure, more closely, why doctors are performing abortions under Medicaid. I’m confident the court will agree, this falls woefully short of a compelling state interest in infringing on women’s constitutional rights.”
Last year Senator Gardner successfully amended SB49 on the Senate floor, securing more funds for family planning services in Alaska. “We all want the same thing here: to reduce the number of abortions. Assuring access to family planning services is clearly the most effective way to reduce abortion, and I look for support from legislators on both sides of the aisle. The House Finance Committee is currently holding SB 49 after failing to garner support from members to strip Senator Gardner’s amendment.
To view the non-partisan Legislative Research Services Report, click here:
For more information contact Senator Gardner at (907) 465-4930.