Alaska Judge rules revision of notification initiative language

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March 17, 2010

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JUNEAU, Alaska: Earlier this week, Alaska Superior Court Judge Frank Pfiffner ordered that the language for the parental notification initiative be rewritten in order to be placed on the August 24, 2010 primary ballot. Although Planned Parenthood of Great Northwest and the ACLU of Alaska argued that the language was misleading, and should not be placed on the ballot, Pfiffner only ruled that the language be revised. The measure, if enacted, would forbid a minor from getting an abortion without a doctor informing at least one parent before moving forward with the procedure.

The lawsuit was filed by Jeff Feldman, an attorney for Planned Parenthood of Alaska, who are in opposition to the measure. Feldman stated that the lieutenant governor should have not have approved the initiative, citing the measure misleads voters and is unlawful. The case was heard by the Alaska Supreme Court on February 24, 2010.[1]

During the court hearing, Feldman cited that the initiative is misleading, "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 or that it necessarily would require that a minor go to court and file a lawsuit in order to obtain relief from the notice requirement."[1]

Jim Minnery of Alaskans for Parental Rights, who spearheaded the initiative effort, talked about the petition, stating, "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."[1]

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