Alaska Pro-Life Advocates Need Signatures for Parental Notification on Abortion
by Patricia Coll Freeman
December 13, 2009
LifeNews.com Note: This article originally appeared in the Catholic Anchor newspaper and is reproduced here with permission.
Juneau, AK (LifeNews.com) — As of December 8, 31,000 signatures had been collected on a petition for a ballot initiative that would allow Alaska voters to decide whether abortion practitioners should be required to get consent from — or at least notify — parents before performing an abortion on a minor girl.
However, at least 11,000 more signatures are still needed in order to ensure that the initiative can be placed on next years primary election ballot.
According to state law, 32,734 signatures are required but to make up for names that may be invalid for various reasons, organizers are seeking an additional 11,000.
Alaskans for Parental Rights, the leading organization behind the initiative, said Catholic support for the initiative has made a large impact on the success of the petition drive.
Anchorage Archbishop Roger Schwietz asked Catholics across the archdiocese to sign the petition, and he has strongly encouraged all 32 parishes in the archdiocese to support the drive from the pulpit and in bulletins and Web sites and to host signature-gathering volunteers at church.
Alaskans for Parental Rights would like to thank Archbishop Schwietz for his support of this initiative, said the groups campaign organizer Kelly Foreman in a December 8 email to the Catholic Anchor newspaper. His words of encouragement have raised up an army of petition circulators from parishes across the state. Many of these soldiers have circulated the petitions in their home parish and even visited other churches in order to collect signatures.
Additionally, hundreds of volunteers from other Christian denominations are also collecting signatures statewide in more than 200 churches.
Foreman explained that the state requires signatures to be gathered from 30 of the 40 House Districts, meaning names cannot all come from large population centers but must also represent people from rural villages like Dillingham, Bethel and Tok.
According to Foreman, the minimum number of required signatures has been met in 10 House districts and 10 more districts need less than 100 signatures.
Our goals at this point are to keep collecting signatures and to get signed petitions traded out with new ones so we can check the signatures against the voter record, Foreman said. This petition initiative is an opportunity to make an incredible impact on Alaska. Parental rights will be safeguarded, teen health will be protected and the lives of the unborn will be saved.
In a September 3 letter to Catholic parishes, Archbishop Schwietz noted that in Alaska, Girls as young as 12 years old can now have abortions without the guidance, consent or knowledge of their parents.
According to the latest report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, 369 Alaska teens had abortions in 2006. Of those 74 were 16 years or younger; 54 abortions were performed on teens 17 years old; 117 abortion were performed on teens 18 years old and 124 to those who were 19 years.
Organizers of the petition drive are looking to file all signatures by the end of December, but first must verify names against voter registration records.
In November 2007, the Alaska Supreme Court overturned a state law the legislature overwhelmingly passed in 1997 that required parental consent before an abortion on a minor girl. Elsewhere in the U.S., parental consent or notice laws are on the books in over half the states.
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