Approved Alaska 2010 parental notification measure under legal fire

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October 3, 2011


JUNEAU, Alaska: It was approved by voters during the August 24, 2010 primary election with approximately 55 percent voting 'yes'. Now, the highly scrutinized parental notification initiative faces another hurdle, this time in the form of a legal challenge filed with Alaska Superior Court.

The lawsuit was filed by opponents on the grounds that the law violates the constitutional rights of those girls who would be affected by the law, and the rights of their doctors. According to the group, in their motion, the law "will, for some minors who are subject to strict parental control, function as a parental consent requirement. And for some minors, (the law) will take away their ability to obtain abortion services at all." The state Department of Law is reviewing the filed lawsuit. According to Bill McAllister, the state will likely defend Ballot Measure 2.

Judge John Suddock, according to reports, denied the state's request for a summary judgment during the week of September 29, 2011, which would have tossed out portions of the case.

The state reportedly argued that Planned Parenthood, who filed the lawsuit, could not prove certain aspects of its challenge.

According to Planned Parenthood spokesperson Clover Simon: "Basically the judge agreed with us, that he wanted to hear the case out."

Jim Minnery, president of Alaska Family Council, the group behind the measure, stated: "Every other possible medical procedure and even not medical procedures require parental notification. Parents have the right to be involved in any sort of medical procedure."

The proposal, known as Ballot Measure 2, was introduced to forbid a minor from getting an abortion without a doctor informing at least one parent before moving forward with the procedure. The proposal also included enforcing legal penalties on doctors who perform abortions on minors without consent of the minor's parents.

The Alaska Division of Elections determined that there were a sufficient number of sponsor signatures and the application was certified for circulation by July 2, 2009. Organizers submitted signatures by the January deadline, thus paving the way for placement on the 2010 ballot. Organizers had to collect 32,734 signatures for the initiative to be placed on the ballot. Sponsors of the amendment were former Lieutenant Governor Loren Leman, Mia Costello, and Kim Hummer-Minnery, wife of Jim Minnery.[1]

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