Alaska Officials Reject Ballot Amendment Banning Abortions

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 12, 2011   |   5:38PM   |   Juneau, AK

Two Alaska officials have rejected a proposed statewide ballot proposal that would have the result of banning abortions in the state.

Alaska’s new Attorney General John Burns said the proposed initiative for the 2012 election is unconstitutional because it would go up against the Supreme Court’s decision allowing virtually unlimited abortions under Roe v. Wade.

“The proposed bill meets the ‘clearly unconstitutional’ standard because it would supersede a woman’s constitutional right to privacy. This right is a federal constitutional right recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade,” Burns’ office said. It added that Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell should reject the measure as well.

Today, Treadwell did just that, according to the Juneau Empire.

“I was convinced the controlling case law made (the initiative) clearly unconstitutional,” Treadwell said.

Clinton Desjarlais of Anchorage is behind the amendment that calls for the protection of “the natural right to life and body of all mankind from the beginning of biological development.”

“We the People affirm that the natural right to life and body of the unborn child supercedes the statutory right of the mother to consent to the injury or death of her unborn child. In life threatening situations the law of necessity shall dictate between the life of the mother and her child,”it adds.

Although different from personhood amendments that have cropped up in some states, the measure is similar in that it would attempt to ban abortions before the Supreme Court has overturned the Roe decision. As a result, the high court which currently has a 5-4 pro-abortion majority at best, would overturn the measure and deem it unconstitutional. Other pro-life groups say the pro-life movement must continue changing the makeup of the court to enable state abortion bans so they can be upheld on the federal level.

Desjarlais told the newspaper he may go to court to fight the decision.

“I’m a Christian, I know that life begins at conception, its readily apparent,” he said. “My tentative intent is to litigate this, and to challenge in court the denial of the right to the initiative process.”

Treadwell responded, “I spent more time on this issue than any other single issue since wrapping up the senate election, and I did not see very much of a choice.”

Although Treadwell says his attorneys made it clear the measure would undoubtedly be declared unconstitutional, even if voters approved it, Desjarlais said “If he claims to be a pro-life person, why doesn’t he certify it anyway.”

In 2009, then-Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell, acting upon the advice of Attorney General Dan Sullivan, rejected a similar measure, called the Sanctity of Life measure.

Last year, Alsaka voters approved a statewide ballot proposal allowing the parents of teens to know when their minor daughter is considering an abortion.