Alaska Discussion Over Parental Involvement Law on Abortion Continues

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 3, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Alaska Discussion Over Parental Involvement Law on Abortion Continues Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 3,

Juneau, AK ( — Alaska lawmakers are continuing to determine the best course of action in response to the state Supreme Court’s decision last month to overturn a law requiring parental consent for minor girls on abortion. They are debating between a constitutional amendment or reworking the law to allow for parental notification.

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 court said it would be open to a law that only required notification before an abortion.

Rep. John Coghill, a Republican, is working with 10 lawmakers on a constitutional amendment that would get the stronger consent language in place but would be significantly more difficult to accomplish.

Such an amendment would require approval from a two-thirds majority in both branches of the state legislature and approval by voters on a statewide referendum.

Coghill told the Juneau Empire newspaper that he’s open to legislation that simply changes the law to a notification statute and avoids a more difficult battle while still allowing parental involvement on abortion.

"The benefit to that is that you could do it by a majority vote," he said of the legislation, whereas a constitutional amendment requires "a much higher bar to pass," he said.

"I’d like to see it overturned, but there may be a way that I could work with their ruling and still have parents involved in that decision," Coghill added.

Gov. Sarah Palin, a pro-life Republican, asked the state high court for a re-hearing in the case and spokeswoman Sharon Leighow told the newspaper she backs a constitutional amendment.

"She feels parental consent is reasonable because it is required in nearly every aspect of a child’s life. It’s a parent’s right and responsibility to be involved in their child’s life," Leighow said.

Meanwhile, Clover Simon, the director of Planned Parenthood of Alaska, said the group’s abortion center has only once in 2006 seen a teenager come for an abortion without bringing a parent.

She didn’t think a constitutional amendment would get voter approval.

"I do not think there is enough support for a constitutional amendment because I feel Alaskans are pretty protective of the constitution," Simon told the Empire.