Alaska Pro-Abortion Groups Appeal Judge’s Decision on Parental Notification Prop
by Steven Ertelt
April 6, 2010
Juneau, AK (LifeNews.com) — Two pro-abortion groups in Alaska have appealed a judge’s decision saying the language of the parental notification proposition on abortion should be rewritten. Planned Parenthood and the ACLU want the state Supreme Court to go further — prohibiting the pro-life measure from appearing on the November ballot.
Alaskans for Parental Rights submitted signatures in January to get the measure on the ballot but Planned Parenthood filed suit.
The Division of Elections, last month, verified 36,285 signatures, more than the 32,734 that supporters were required to gather to get the measure on the ballot.
Planned Parenthood presented its case in court in February saying the Lieutenant Governor should not allow Alaska voters to consider the measure to reduce abortions. It argued the language of the proposed ballot measure is misleading and confusing.
Superior Court Judge Frank Pfiffner agreed and ordered Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell to rewrite ballot language.
But ACLU of Alaska and Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, according to an AP report, filed a notice to appeal the decision.
Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of ACLU of Alaska, told AP that voters were misled during the signature gathering process and so the court should not allow the parental notification measure to go on the ballot.
Kevin Clarkson, the attorney for the initiative’s sponsors, said back in February that 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.
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 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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