Alaska Court Hears Lawsuit Against Parental Notification on Abortion Ballot Prop
by Steven Ertelt
February 25, 2010
Juneau, AK (LifeNews.com) — An Alaska court on Wednesday held a hearing on a ballot initiative proposal that would allow parents to be informed when their minor daughter is considering an abortion. The Alaskans for Parental Rights submitted signatures in January to get the measure on the ballot but Planned Parenthood filed suit.
If the measure makes it before voters and receives their approval, then abortion centers in the state would be required to tell the parents of a teenager before doing an abortion that they want one.
This gives them a chance to guide their daughter towards positive alternatives.
Planned Parenthood presented its case in court on Wednesday, saying the Lieutenant Governor should not allow Alaska voters to consider the measure to reduce abortions.
Jeff Feldman, the attorney for Planned Parenthood of Alaska, argued the language of the proposed ballot measure is misleading and confusing.
"It omits very significant details of the burdens that are placed on minors and physicians. It fails to inform voters immediately about the option for court representation. It talks about a minor obtaining a judicial bypass, well I don’t think very many lay citizens know what a judicial bypass is," he said.
Kevin Clarkson, the attorney for the initiative’s sponsors, said Planned Parenthood is grasping at straws and assuming Alaska residents aren’t smart enough to figure out the details of the proposal.
"What they need to know is if this initiative goes on the ballot and it passes: What is the law going to be. That’s the main feature of the initiative. What it changed before is just nuance," he said, according to KTUU.
And Jim Minnery with Alaskans for Parental Rights, the group that sponsored the ballot measure, says the number of petitions the group turned in shows Alaskans want to vote on the pro-life measure.
"People are smart in Alaska. They knew exactly what they were signing. Should parents be engaged in medical decisions made by their teenage girls? And the answer was an astounding yes," he said.
The judge in the case is expected to deliver a ruling by March 17.
The measure has broad support from pro-life advocates.
Anchorage Archbishop Roger Schwietz asked Catholics across the archdiocese to sign the petition, and he 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.
Additionally, hundreds of volunteers from other Christian denominations also collected signatures statewide in more than 200 churches.
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 old.
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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