Alaska Court Holds Hearing on Abortion-Parental Notification

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 8, 2011   |   5:15PM   |   Juneau, AK

A state court held a hearing today on the lawsuit the Planned Parenthood abortion business filed to stop a new law voters approved that allow parents to know when their minor daughters are considering an abortion.

Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest filed a lawsuit against the new law state voters passed in the primary election that requires abortion centers to notify the parents of a minor girl who wants to have an abortion. Voters approved the measure in August 2010 and the pro-life law was slated to go into effect on December 14, but the abortion business asked a judge to issue an injunction preventing that from happening.

As it has in other lawsuits against notification laws, which have been upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court and in other states, Planned Parenthood claims the law violates the privacy of the girls — but it says nothing of the parents who would be kept in the daughter about their teen girls and who would have to pay for medical expenses related to potential botched abortions.

The lawsuit also claims teens who want to have an abortion are treated differentially from those who want to keep their baby and it makes the claim the law violates equal protection standards.

Today, pro-abortion ACLU attorney Janet Crepps, arguing on behalf of Planned Parenthood, argued that the law is one of the most burdensome in the nation for abortion facilities.  She said in the Anchorage court hearing, according to an AP report, that part of the law she opposes is the requirement for verification that a young woman was truly a victim of statutory rape before a judicial bypass can be prevented allowing her to have an abortion without notifying her parents. The verification from official like police would have to be obtained along with the girl’s own statement getting notarized.

Margaret Paton-Walsh, an attorney for the state of Alaska, told the judge that girls seeking an abortion in such rare and tragic cases as statutory rape is necessarily to ensure girls who are not victimized don’t use a fake claim as an excuse to obtain the judicial order to allow them to have the abortion without their parents knowing.

AP indicates a trial concerning the law is set for January.

In 1997 the Alaska legislature passed a law preventing young women from obtaining abortions without parental consent. The ACLU, together with Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights, sued the state, and in 2007, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that the law violated the Alaska Constitution.

With 84 percent of the vote counted, 70,503 Alaskans voted for Measure 2 while 56,354 voted against it. That had parental notification winning on a 55.5 to 44.4 percent margin. With the vote, Alaska became the 37th state to require parental involvement before a minor can have an abortion.

Alaskans for Parental Rights spearheaded the effort while the ACLU joined Planned Parenthood in opposing it.

“I think that Alaskan parents are concerned. They want to be there for their girls and they want to be there even when the going gets tough,” said Bernadette Wilson, campaign manager for Alaskans for Parental Rights after the vote. “And I think we sent the message loud and clear that we want to care for these girls, even those girls who come from unhealthy home environments.”

Just one day later, Alaska Planned Parenthood created a web site to push teens into abortions using the judicial bypass provision.

Chief Justice Dana Fabe voted against the parental consent law in 2007 but said in the majority opinion: “Contrary to the arguments of Planned Parenthood, we determine that the constitution permits a statutory scheme which ensures that parents are notified so that they can be engaged in their daughters’ important decisions in these matters.”

Justices Robert Eastaugh and Alexander Bryner, who voted against the consent law, have left the court. As a result, this current court challenge may fail if it makes it to the high court.