Alaska Voters Will Get to Vote on Parental Notification Before Abortion Measure
by Steven Ertelt
June 3, 2010
Juneau, AK (LifeNews.com) — Alaska voters this August will have the opportunity to vote on a pro-life ballot measure that would allow parents to know when their minor daughters are considering an abortion. If enacted, the law would reduce teen abortions by protecting parental rights to help their children find better alternatives.
The Alaska Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a trial courts finding that petitions for a parental notification initiative do not contain confusing and misleading language and are therefore valid.
The decision means that the parental notification measure will go on the ballot for voter approval during the August 24 primary despite opposition from Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood filed suit to stop the initiative, claiming that the lieutenant governors summary of the proposed measure contained on the petitions was confusing and misleading.
Kevin Clarkson, an attorney affiliated with the pro-life legal group Alliance Defense Fund successfully argued against Planned Parenthoods claims on behalf of the Alaska Family Council, the primary supporter of the initiative.
A minor childs well being is worth more than Planned Parenthoods bottom line, said Clarkson.
If groups that profit from abortions were truly pro-choice, they wouldn’t be going to extraordinary lengths to keep the people of Alaska from voting their conscience on a measure like this. As both the trial court and the Supreme Court concluded, there is no need to invalidate the petition signatures for this initiative,’ he continued.
In its opinion in Planned Parenthood of Alaska v. Campbell, the high court wrote, We agree with the superior court and conclude that the lieutenant governor may place the PNI [parental notification initiative] on the ballot without requiring the sponsors to recirculate the petition.
The lieutenant governor certified the petition signatures prior to the lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood.
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.
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.
In June 2009, ADF awarded Clarkson its Silver Service Award for contributing more than 5,000 hours of pro bono legal services in defense of religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.
Sign Up for Free Pro-Life News From LifeNews.com
Daily Pro-Life News Report Twice-Weekly Pro-Life
News Report Receive a free daily email report from LifeNews.com with the latest pro-life news stories on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here. Receive a free twice-weekly email report with the latest pro-life news headlines on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here.