TREE LIGHTING – Sitkans gather next to a decorated spruce tree across from City Hall Saturday. Scores turned out for the Chamber of Commerce’s holiday celebration that included caroling, a tree lighting hosted by Mrs. Santa Claus, and remarks by Chamber of Commerce member Loren Olsen and City Administrator John Leach encouraging people to shop in town during the holiday season. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Judge Grants Injunction On State Abortion Law

The Associated Press

JUNEAU (AP) — A state court judge has granted a request to allow advanced practice clinicians in Alaska to provide medication abortion while an underlying legal case proceeds. 

Superior Court Judge Josie Garton, in a written order Tuesday, said Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky “has shown that it is likely to succeed on the merits of its claim that prohibiting advanced practice clinicians from providing medication abortion violates patients’ right to privacy under the Alaska Constitution by significantly restricting the availability of abortions in this state without sufficient justification.”

“The law also likely violates patients’ right to equal protection, since it prevents patients seeking abortions from receiving care from advanced practice clinicians that patients experiencing miscarriage may receive from the same providers,” Garton wrote.

The ruling came on an injunction request by Planned Parenthood, which sued nearly two years ago to challenge a state law that dates back decades and limits who can perform abortions. The group also said the Alaska Board of Nursing had rejected requests for advanced practice clinicians to provide aspiration procedures to treat miscarriages.

The case is set for trial in July, where Planned Parenthood “will seek to make this ruling permanent and further expand access for qualified health care professionals to provide not only medication abortion but other safe, early abortion and miscarriage care,” the organization said in a statement.

The injunction sought by the group earlier this year and granted by Garton is to allow advanced practice clinicians to provide medication abortions. That category includes advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants, attorneys for the group said in court documents.

Aaron Sadler, a spokesperson for the Alaska Department of Law, said the department plans “to proceed with the case and defend the statute,” which he said was enacted in 1970. Department attorneys are representing the state in the case.


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Alaska COVID-19 
At a Glance

(updated 12-3-21)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 10:21 a.m. Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 312

Total statewide – 146,558

Total (cumulative) deaths – 853

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 3,117

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

COVID in Sitka

The COVID alert rate for Sitka is “high,” based on 13 new resident COVID cases in the past 7 days, a rate of 152.52 per 100,000 population. Case statistics are as of Thursday.

New cases in Sitka – 2

Cases in last 7 days – 13

Cumulative Sitka cases – 1,142

Cumulative non-resident cases – 102

Unique positive cumulative test results in Sitka, as of 11/26/21 – 1,266

Deceased (cumulative) – 5

The local case data are from the City of Sitka website.

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December 2001

Photo caption: Cathy Hanson shovels snow off the sidewalk in front of Russell’s today. What started as a few flakes Monday evening had mounted to an estimated half-foot by noon today. More was forecast but rain is possible Wednesday.

December 1971 

Several fish fatalities resulted Monday night when a car apparently went out of control, ran off Halibut Point Road and slammed into the rear of Sitka Petland Store. Vibrations shattered fish tanks, and several hundred dollars worth of tropical fish were casualties.