Alaska Officials Ask State Supreme Court to Reconsider Abortion Decision

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 14, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Alaska Officials Ask State Supreme Court to Reconsider Abortion Decision Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 14,

Juneau, AK ( — The state of Alaska has officially asked the Supreme Court there to reconsider its decision earlier this month overturning a law requiring parental consent for minor girls on abortion. The Alaska Supreme Court struck the 1997 law down on a 3-2 ruling saying that girls under 17 should be able to get an abortion without parental permission.

The state’s high court claimed the law denies a teenager her so-called right to an abortion, even though the U.S. Supreme Court, which handed down the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, has consistently upheld parental notification and consent laws.

On Tuesday, state attorney Kevin Clarkson filed legal papers asking the court to reconsider its decision.

Clarkson said the court should reevaluate its ruling because it considering a topic that wasn’t the subject of the pro-abortion challenge against the law.

Though the high court ruled against the statute, Chief Justice Dana Fabe, writing for the majority, said a measure that simply provided parents with notification in advance of a minor’s abortion, rather than obtaining their consent, would be legally sound.

Clarkson argues that Fabe did not have enough information to reach this conclusion and pointed out that the state wants the consent statute instead of one requiring notification. He also said abortion advocates opposed even a notification statue letting parents know about a potential abortion decision by their daughter.

Clarkson also told the Anchorage Daily News that he objected to the judge’s contention that the statute violated the privacy clause of the state’s constitution — which the court has wrongly used to allow for unlimited abortion rights.

The state filing comes days after two prominent state legislators said they want to let Alaska voters consider whether parents should be required to sign off on a teenager’s request for an abortion.

Rep. John Coghill and Sen. Fred Dyson, both Republicans, say they are two of a group of 10 legislators who think the Alaska Supreme Court got the decision wrong.

They recently held a news conference to explain their goals.

"What this court decision did was put the parents out of the loop when it comes to the care, protection, nurturing and decision-making of the child," Coghill said. "The Legislature did everything it could to protect the privacy of a young child getting pregnant."

The legislature is currently in a special session about another political issue and won’t be able to address a possible request for a ballot proposal until it reconvenes in January for its regular session.

If a bill is introduced for a ballot proposal, it would need the support of two-thirds of the members of both the House and Senate to move forward.

Any such measure would find support from Gov. Sarah Palin, who called the high court’s ruling "outrageous" and asked Attorney General Talis Colberg to file legal papers asking for a re-hearing.