Alaska Parental Notification Initiative, Ballot Measure 2 (August 2010)

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The Alaska Parental Notification Initiative, also known as Ballot Measure 2, was on the August 24, 2010 ballot in Alaska as an initiated state statute, where it was approved.

Ballot Measure 2 was proposed 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.[1][2]

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, president of the Alaska Family Council.[1]



According to supporters of the measure, Catholic support was a big part of the measure being enacted by voters. Jim Minnery of Alaskans for Parental Rights, the main support of the measurem stated that the Catholic Church "played a crucial role in our success." According to reports, and from Minnery, Archbishop of Anchorage Roger Schwietz had "decisive leadership" in rallying the support of the Catholic Church in the state. Other parishes also were crucial in the passage of the measure, according to supporters.[3]

Possible challenge

Reports out of the state are saying that the passage of the measure could be challenged in court. The group against the measure, Planned Parenthood, is the group that is planning to file the suit, which is aiming to block the newly passed law.[4]

Planned Parenthood has also created a website to help teens to meet the mandates set by the new law. The group has stated that it would work with counselors and other health providers to ensure that teens could have the procedure performed on them as soon as possible.[5]

According to Jim Minnery, member of Alaskans for Parental Rights, "We are -- we're expecting a lawsuit. Planned Parenthood has filed lawsuits in almost every state where parental notification, either statutes or initiatives, have passed, so we expect that to happen."[6]

Clover Simon, with Planned Parenthood of Alaska, stated, "It’s really in the lawyers’ hands at this point -- we're not going to mount a challenge unless we feel like it’s going to be successful."

Lawsuit filed

The rumored lawsuit came to reality when Planned Parenthood filed their attempt to block the law, which was set to take effect on December 14, 2010. The lawsuit was filed 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. The lawsuit was filed during the week of November 23, 2010.[7]


Superior Court Judge John Suddock ruled that the measure should stand, however, the judge stated that doctors should not go to jail for failing to comply with the new law. The ruling was given on December 13, 2010.[8][9]

According to Clover Simon, of Planned Parenthood, "We are pleased that the judge gave a partial injunction. He obviously felt responsibility to let the law go forward if he could." However, Jim Minnery, member of Alaskans for Parental Rights, the group behind the initiative effort to place the measure on the ballot, the ruling makes the law ineffective, since physicians cannot be punished: "What's the incentive for a physician? It's basically a suggestion. It's an Alaska State Suggestion now, under the judge."

Reconsideration of ruling

According to reports, the state wants the lawsuit to be looked at again, filing a motion for reconsideration. Governor of Alaska Sean Parnell stated that he would “continue to work to ensure that Alaska’s families are represented and that the law truly reflects the will of the people.”[10]

Reports during September 2011 stated that the law may be struck down barring a judges ruling. In oral arguments on September 8, 2011, Janet Crepps, attorney for Planned Parenthood, who is against the voter-approved law stated: "Parental interests are already well-protected here, that's what the whole statute is about parental notification. The state does not further its interests by additionally burdening minors who wish to take part in the judicial bypass system."[11]

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."

Suddock later stated he would let Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest argue its entire case on February 13, 2012.

According to Assistant Attorney General Margaret Paton-Walsh, in an e-mail: "We had hoped to narrow the issues in the case before trial, but we are ready to proceed with a full hearing of all the claims presented by the plaintiffs. We are confident that the Parental Notification Law is constitutional and that the evidence at trial will demonstrate that.”[12]

On February 13, 2012, the trial began with arguments being given from both sides.

Assistant Attorney General John Treptow, who is for the measure, during arguments stated: "Abortion is a complex and weighty decision. Once the decision is made to abort it can't be reversed."

Former Lt. Gov. Loren Lehman, one of the sponsors of the initiative commented outside of the courtroom: "A parent really needs to be aware."

On the other hand, witness Dr. Philip Darney, distinguished professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, and director of the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, stated that abortion was "very safe," and that the new law "doesn't make public health sense."[13]

On March 2, 2012, closing arguments were given after 14 days of trial.

According to Judge Suddock, when asking Planned Parenthood why the will of the voters should be overturned: "We don't want our kids to protect us from our own heartbreak. We don't want them to overestimate our hostile reaction. At the end of the day, we're going to be there for them and we want in on this decision. That's a pretty forceful conclusion by the electorate, seemingly."

Janet Crepps, the attorney for Planned Parenthood, who is against the measure: "The Alaska Supreme Court has made it clear that initiatives don't get – certainly not a free pass – but they're subject to the same scrutiny as legislatively, laws passed by the legislature."

On the other side of the argument, Assistant Attorney General Margaret Paton-Walsh stated: "It's doing the work it's required to do. And it is not doing any harm...All the harms and the speculations that were out there at the beginning of this litigation, none of them have manifested themselves. There hasn't been delay, girls haven't been pushed into a second trimester abortion, they haven't gone to Seattle as a result of this law – there is no evidence of that."

On October 9, 2012, Judge John Suddock ruled in favor of the measure, stating that although the measure does not make abortion safer, that the measure would "prod some pregnant minors to alert their parents without adverse consequence." Suddock also stated that some “minors might be pleasantly surprised when (they find they) underestimated parents’ support, comfort...”[14]

Election results

Alaska Measure 2 (August 2010)
Approveda Yes 90,259 55.06%

Election results via: Alaska Division of Elections

Text of measure

Abortion on the ballot in 2010
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Ballot title

The ballot title read:[15]

This bill would change the law to require notice to the parent or guardian of a female under the age of 18 before she has an abortion. Currently, a female under 18 may have an abortion with no notice to her parent or guardian. The bill includes detailed requirements for the notice, including that the minor’s doctor must provide the notice at least 48 hours before the procedure. This waiting period would be waived if a parent or guardian gives consent. The bill also allows the minor to go to court to authorize an abortion without giving notice to her parent or guardian. The minor could ask the court to excuse her from school to attend the hearings and to have the abortion. The court could direct the school not to tell the minor’s parent or guardian of the minor’s pregnancy, abortion, or absence from school. The bill allows a minor who is a victim of abuse by her parent or guardian to get an abortion without notice or consent. To do this, the minor and an adult relative or authorized official with personal knowledge of the abuse must sign a notarized statement about the abuse. The bill would make it a felony for a doctor to knowingly violate the statutory notice provisions for giving the minor’s parents notice of the minor’s intent to have an abortion. The bill sets out a doctor’s defense for performing an abortion without first providing notice or obtaining consent where the minor faces an immediate threat of death or permanent physical harm from continuing the pregnancy. Doctors who perform abortions on a minor would have to submit reports. This bill amends a law passed by the legislature in 1997 that is on the books but which may not be enforced because of a Court decision. The 1997 law was known as the “Parental Consent Act.” This bill makes changes to the 1997 law to address concerns in the Court decision and seeks to make the law, as amended, enforceable.

Should this initiative become law?[16]

Text of statute

Section 1 of the proposal read:[17]

(a) An abortion may not be performed in this state unless

(1) the abortion is performed by a physician licensed by the State Medical Board under AS 08.64.200;
(2) the abortion is performed in a hospital or other facility approved for the purpose by the Department of Health and Social Services or a hospital operated by the federal government or an agency of the federal government;
(3) before an abortion is knowingly performed or induced on a pregnant, [AN] unmarried, unemancipated woman under 18 years of age, notice or consent have [HAS] been given as required under AS 18.16.020 or a court has authorized the minor to proceed with the abortion without parental involvement under AS 18.16.030 and the minor consents; for purposes of enforcing this paragraph, there is a rebuttable presumption that a woman who is unmarried and under 18 years of age is unemancipated;
(4) the woman is domiciled or physically present in the state for 30 days before the abortion; and (5) the applicable requirements of AS 18.16.060 have been satisfied.[16]



  • Former Governor Sarah Palin was a supporter of the initiative, stating that she wanted to be the first signature on the petition. According to reports, Palin was considering sponsoring the effort, but after obtaining legal opinions, she stated that she would instead volunteer her efforts towards being the first to sign. Palin stated: “I got a preliminary opinion from Law (Department) just giving me a heads up that critics would certainly file an ethics charge against me if I were to sponsor an initiative. So though I maintain I have First Amendment rights just as any other citizen does, I won't flirt with the notion of giving critics more ammunition to keep filing wasteful ethics charges against me, but instead I'll volunteer to be the first signature.”[18]
  • According to Kelly Foreman, who helped spearhead the effort, Catholic support had been a major factor in collecting the signatures. According to Foreman in an email to Anchorage Archbishop Roger Schwietz: "Alaskans for Parental Rights would like to thank Archbishop Schwietz for his support of this initiative." The group also began its advertising campaign with a television ad called Did you Know.[20][21]
  • Bishop Edward Burns of Alaska had urged support for the ballot measure. In a statement written by the Bishop, Burns wrote, "This measure is meant to restore in law the rights parents have to protect their minor daughters. In a just and decent society, we would protect all young, frightened girls from those who would try to convince them that a ‘secret’ abortion would be their best option."[22]


  • According to the website for the Alaskans for Parental Rights, the group countered it's opposition, stating, "Opponents of the parental notification ballot measure argue it is a “government mandate.” But all laws are government mandates, from highway speed limits, to the rule that says you have to buckle your infant into a car seat when traveling on the road. The essential question is whether the law advances a proper interest. Parental involvement laws protect the rights of parents..."[23]
  • President of the Alaska Family Council, Jim Minnery, stated that the goal of the effort was to implement a state law that required a parent to give permission before a minor can have an abortion. According to Minnery, the potential ballot measure was not an effort to ban abortion: "It is not an anti-abortion initiative as it will be positioned. It's basically a parental rights initiative.”
  • An opinion piece written by Barnabas Firth, and published in the Homer Tribune, the argument was made for the measure that parental rights were not "intrusive" mandates. Firth wrote, "We all recognize that children are born immature and depend on others for protection and guidance until they are old enough to care for themselves. It is self-evident that the way to perpetuate a free society is by parents exercising their rights as guardians of their children and bringing them up to be responsible adults. This is the basic function of the family unit; the basic building block of a society."[24]
  • In an opinion column published by the Anchorage Daily News and written by Leslie Lorentzen, the column argued, "Ballot Measure 2 may be primarily about parental rights but it also has the fringe benefit of shedding light into the darkness of abuse -- perhaps allowing a child to get the intervention and help so desperately needed before further harm and abuse occur. Secrecy is the womb of abuse. I lived for years being told not to tell. It was in telling that I finally got help."[25]

Campaigning, rallies, events and stories

  • A fundraiser was scheduled to be held during the week of June 14, 2010, in which Governor Sean Parnell was to attend, since he was in favor of the measure.[26]
  • Jim Minnery, who was the leader of the campaign for the measure, wrote an article that was published by the Anchorage Daily News, calling for the passage of the measure and countering arguments made by opponents. Minnery wrote, "Alaskans Against Government Mandates, the Ballot Group Planned Parenthood formed to fight this common sense ballot measure, sent out a news release stating that "Pediatricians Say No on 2." Well, that is accurate in that, unfortunately, the Alaska Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics has taken a position in opposition to the parental notification ballot measure. The assumption their statement makes is that all pediatricians oppose this ballot measure. If that were the case, why is it that the American College of Pediatricians and their current president has come out in support of Ballot Measure 2?" Minnery concluded his article by stating, "Again, Planned Parenthood is stumbling and stretching and playing with the truth but Alaskans know better. The truth will get out."[27]
  • In a letter posted on July 2, 2010, Alaskans for Parental Rights wrote a letter to supporters calling for pastors and other church leaders to spread the word of support for the measure. The letter wanted supporters to "speak from the pulpit loud and clear about this important cultural matter." Yard signs and bumper stickers were some of the ways the letter suggested for supporters to campaign for the measure.[28]
  • In a story published by Life News, the publication wrote of a mother whose daughter had an abortion without parental consent and on the persuasion of her daughter's boyfriend and his father. The story described that the daughter was planning on keeping the child, but after the father of her boyfriend offered money for her to have the abortion, and a letter written by her boyfriend, the daughter went ahead and had the procedure performed. The boyfriend, according to reports acted "despondent" and threatened to take his own life if she did not have the abortion. The mother argued that her rights as a mother were sacrificed the day the abortion took place: “Who we are comes out of our family. We come out of our parents … and they know us at so many levels better (than we know ourselves). They raised us, they gave birth to us, they've seen us grow, they've seen us change.”[29]



  • Alaskans Against Government Mandates was the main opposition to the measure. was their official campaign website.
  • Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, an abortion rights group, opposed the initiative, stating that a majority of teens come from unhealthy families and stated that those teens could see this law and perform dangerous steps to avoid telling their parents. According to Clover Simon, the Alaska vice president of the group: "I'm afraid that young women in that situation are going to see this and they're just not going to get any help at all and they are going to take things into their own hand. ... If you Google abortion or self-induced abortion you can get all kinds of bad advice."[2][18]
No On 2 Logo.jpg
  • American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska was also a known opponent of the initiative effort and proposed ballot measure.[2][18]


Arguments that had been made in opposition to the measure included:

  • An opinion column written by Dr. Monique M. Karaganis, pediatrician and secretary for the Alaska Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, wrote that lives would be put at risk. Dr. Karaganis wrote, "Scared, pregnant teens don't need a judge; they need medical care -- without delay. Their claims that teens can tell a school nurse or neighbor are just plain wrong! Teens would actually have to get a signed and notarized statement from either a grandparent, stepparent, sibling over the age of 21, law enforcement official or DHSS official who has investigated the abuse. That's not as simple as the proponents are pretending; in fact, it's extremely difficult for any teen, let alone one who is scared and pregnant, to handle."[30]
  • A letter written to the website Homer News argued that the issue of rape should have been taken into consideration when debating the measure. According to the article, rape in Alaska was a big issue when compared to the rest of the country. The letter stated that according to Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, the Alaska rape rate was 2.5 times the national average and child sexual assault in Alaska was almost six times the national average. The letter then claimed, "So when a young girl is raped by the very family member that is supposed to provide consent, does DeVaney think that offers some kind of protection to that young girl?"[31]
  • An opinion piece by Jim Minnery was countered by a letter to the editor, published by the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. In the letter, Anna Plager, of Fairbanks, stated, "Minnery claims that a scared teen who is afraid to talk with her parent or guardian can use the measure’s judicial bypass with a statement from a neighbor or the school nurse. Not true. The truth is when a teen from an abusive home chooses not to tell her parents, Ballot Measure 2 requires the teen to file a complaint in Superior Court with a signed, notarized statement of personal knowledge of the abuse from 'the sibling of the minor who is 21 years of age or older; a law enforcement officer; a representative of the Department of Health and Social Services who has investigated the abuse; a grandparent of the minor; or a stepparent of the minor.'"[32]
  • In a letter to the editor published by the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, the author of the letter, Janet Schichnes, stated some social problems in the state as reason to oppose the measure. Schichnes stated, ."..One-third of minors who do not inform their parents of their situation have experienced family violence, and some may not even live at home. (There are more than 400 homeless youths in Fairbanks alone.) The teen may be a victim of incest, betrayed by the very people who should have protected her. Such was the case of Spring Adams of Idaho, who was shot to death by her father when he learned she was planning to end a pregnancy caused by his acts of incest."[33]

Campaign strategies

  • Opponents of the measure refused to debate the issue in the days leading up to the primary election on August 24. According to reports, Planned Parenthood chose not participate in a public forum discussing the measure and its impacts on the state. In an email written on August 3, 2010 from the organizations chair, the group further confirmed that it would not participate in such events.[34]

Campaign advertisements


A complaint was filed by the Alaskans for Parental Rights to the Alaska Public Offices Commission, citing that illegal ad campaigns were launched by Alaskans Against Government Mandates, the group that opposed the measure. The complaint came after the APOC spoke to the group against the measure, and that the group stated they would stop the advertisements. However, according to the complaint, the ads had not stopped as of July 23, 2010. Alaskans for Parental Rights were concerned with the ads because the ads allegedly did not include the top three contributors to the group, which was a state law. According to the law, radio advertisements and internet ads must have included who paid for the advertisement, the top three contributors and the address of their residence or business.

According to APOC Executive Director Holly Hill, the APOC hadn't formally accepted the complaint due to an uncertainty if it had been served properly on the Alaskans Against Government Mandates. The complaint also called for the APOC to pull the ads and for the group against the measure to rework them to include the proper material. Alaskans for Parental Rights also wanted penalties imposed on the group.[35]

According to reports and Rhiannon Good, the campaign manager for Alaskans Against Government Mandates, the campaign revised the campaign advertisements.[36]

Campaign financing


The group Alaskans for Parental rights filed their year end report with the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) on March 24, 2010, which according to the APOC office, was thirty six days late after the February 15, 2010 filing due date. According to the commission, the report was for the February 2, 2009-February 1, 2010 reporting period. There was no activity or contribution information in the report filed in March, however, according to the APOC, the group was not required to file information in the first report, however, the next report, due on July 26, 2010 was scheduled to have a list of contributions and expenditures.[37]

On July 28, 2010, it was reported that Minnery's group had collected about 200 contributions during the reporting period of February 2, 2010-July 26, 2010. Among the donors were Gov. Sean Parnell and his spouse, who gave $200, candidate for governor Bill Walker and his spouse, who donated $3,250. The Knights of Columbus donated the most, with a donation of $30,000.[38][39]


Planned Parenthood, according to reports, had donated a significant amount of money towards the campaign against the measure. The organization had outspent proponents 10 to 1. A complaint was also filed by supporters of the measure claiming alleged illegal advertisements had been aired by opponents of the measure.[40]

Alaskans Against Government Mandates, according to campaign disclosures that must have been filed with the state, had about $107,000 in contributions as of July 23, 2010, most of which had come from Planned Parenthood. The Planned Parenthood organization's donation had come from its California branch, which had been waging other battles against similar California measures on the ballot. Reports stated that the group's Los Angeles affiliate had donated $25,000 and their Orange affiliate had donated $20,000.[38][41]

Media editorial positions

See also: Endorsements of Alaska ballot measures, 2010


  • The Anchorage Daily News published an editorial praising Alaska Supreme Court's decision of keeping the measure on the ballot, arguing in support of the state's initiative process. The editorial stated, "The court rightly decided that 36,000 valid signatures trumped deficiencies in the summary, and that voters knew what they were doing when they signed the petition to put parental notification on the ballot. If there's any doubt about that, remember that a signature is not a vote. Voters will decide the issue in August, and all the information they need will be available."[42]


  • The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner was in support of the measure, stating in an editorial published on August 20, 2010, "Ballot Measure 2 is a moderate compromise that will preserve a modicum of parental involvement while offering plenty of off-ramps for kids who don’t feel safe with that involvement. Alaskans should vote “yes” on Tuesday."[43]
  • The Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman supported the measure, stating, "The measure won’t put government in our lives, as opponents claim; it will keep the government from circumventing the family unit and allowing a scared, pregnant teen to submit to a major medical procedure without parental (or judicial) consent.Like a tattoo (for which she would need parental permission), this decision will be with her forever. It is her parents’ right and responsibility to help her make a good one. Ballot Measure 2 will ensure they’ve had the chance to help."[44]


  • The Juneau Empire published an editorial on August 23, 2010, stating an opposition to the measure. The editorial stated, "The language of the question spells out alternatives to this notification: a judicial bypass, or through written testimony of the abuse by both the minor and a relative, police officer or state investigator. And, it is the narrowness of these exceptions that should mean the failure of this proposal. The judicial bypass requires a minor to either hope a judge finds her "sufficiently mature and well enough informed" to decide for herself on the termination of her unwanted pregnancy, or testify about abuse the minor suffered at the hands of the parent or guardian she is looking to avoid notifying."[45]
  • The Peninsula Clarion stated in an opinion column, "We can, however, argue that we've evolved beyond the time when laws can discriminate based on gender. We can argue that it is wrong to demand that anyone in this country, based on his or her gender, must succumb to the will of the state. Think about that when you vote on Aug. 24. In short: There's got to be a more just government response to the abortion question."[46]

Legal action

A lawsuit was filed by Jeff Feldman, an attorney for Planned Parenthood of Alaska, who were in opposition to the measure. Feldman stated that the lieutenant governor should have not have approved the initiative, citing the measure mislead voters and was unlawful. The case was heard by the Alaska Supreme Court on February 24, 2010.[2]

According to Laura Einstein, who served as legal director for the group's Great Northwest branch, "While we support minors making these decisions with their parents, we just don't think that, practically, that you can mandate good family communications."

Feldman claimed, "I would say these requirements are cynically drafted to try to frustrate the likelihood that anyone will be able to obtain the necessary notice."[2]

Court hearing

During the court hearing, Feldman cited that the initiative was 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."[2]

Feldman also argued that the summary of the initiative did not clarify that criminal offenses for physicians would occur if not followed. He also claimed that the following points should have been included in the initiative:[2]

  • The notice of provision
  • Notice had to be included by physician
  • That the physician would be jailed if procedure was not followed

Kevin Clarkson, attorney for initiative's sponsors, countered by stating, "What they need to know is if this initiative goes on the ballot and it passes: What is the law going to be. That's the main feature of the initiative. What it changed before is just nuance."[2]

Jim Minnery of Alaskans for Parental Rights, 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."[2]


During the week of March 16, 2010, Superior Court Judge Frank Pfiffner ordered that the language for the ballot measure be rewritten in order to be placed on the 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. According to Minnery, "Alaskans should celebrate they will now have an opportunity to address this important public policy matter themselves on the August Primary Election."

Clover Simon, Vice-President of Planned Parenthood of Alaska, stated that her group was still in the process of figuring out their next step.[47]


According to Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the ACLU of Alaska and member of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, stated that he and his groups appealed the decision by Pfiffner. The groups stated that it was not enough that the lieutenant governor rewrite the ballot language. According to reports, the two groups want the proposed initiative off the ballot completely.[48]

Oral arguments for the appeal were set to be heard in court on May 20, 2010. The Alaska Supreme Court released the schedule to hear arguments on April 7, 2010.[49]

The appeal of ACLU of Alaska and Planned Parenthood led to a court date of May 20, 2010 for oral arguments to be heard about the initiative. The arguments were planned to be heard in front of the Alaska Supreme Court.[50]

During May 2010, Alaska Supreme Court Justice Morgan Christen stepped down from hearing the case. Christen was a member of Planned Parenthood in the mid-1990's, according to reports, and the lawsuit was filed by Planned Parenthood. The Alaska Family Council had previously complained that Christen had a conflict of interest in the case, therefore should be removed from the case. Christen had also encouraged both sides of the case to file objections to her involvement in the case. Christen's decision to step down came without any explanation from the Justice.[51]

In the arguments heard in the case, Planned Parenthood stated that the petition was flawed because it did not tell people that doctors would face legal penalties if correct procedures were not followed. The group also stated that the initiative effort should have had to start again from the very beginning because of this, and that the measure should have been kept off the ballot. However, supporters said that keeping the measure off of the ballot would not have been following the initiative process and would have also violated the state constitution.

According to the initiative's sponsors' attorney, Kevin Clarkson, of Brena, Bell & Clarkson, P.C., when commenting on keeping the measure off of the ballot, "It would be extremely harsh, it would run counter to the very purpose of Article 11 to allow a failure of a government official, in this case the lieutenant governor and the attorney general, to just defeat the ability of the people to act, to engage in direct legislation."[52]

Planned Parenthood's attorney, Jeff Feldman, countered, "To suggest that somehow we can have a deficient summary but the matter still goes on to the ballot, that pretty much does away with the requirement in the first instance. It neuters the screening function that in almost all the cases this court has issued opinions on."[53]

Assistant Attorney General Joanne Grace, who was representing the lieutenant governor's office in the arguments, stated that those who signed the initiative petition had enough information to make an informed decision on whether or not to support the effort. When addressing the language, Grace stated that media and campaign efforts could have been used to inform voters about the measure leading up to the election.[54]

Path to the ballot

The signature deadline to place the measure on the November 2, 2010 ballot was on January 15, 2010. Sponsors turned in signatures to the Alaska Division of Elections the day of the deadline, claiming to have obtained enough signatures to place the measure on the November ballot. The campaign, Alaskans for Parental Rights, stated that they had submitted approximately 47,000 signatures, greatly surpassing the approximately required number signatures from 36 of the state's districts.[55]

All Alaskan initiatives are indirect initiated state statutes, as per state law. This means that if the Division of Elections’ office deems the signatures valid, the next step would be a review from the Legislature before it could be sent to the ballot.

Signatures were certified during the week of March 12, 2010. The elections office reported 36,285 valid signatures, well over the required 32,734 needed to place the question on the ballot.[56][1]

A superior court judge decided in favor of the ballot measure, but ordered a change in ballot language pertaining to certain consequences that accompanied the law, such as potential penalties facing doctors following the approval of the measure.[57][47]

Similar measures and actions

See also: Certified abortion measures in 2010

In 2010

  • In Colorado, voters will be able to decide whether or not to give "inalienable rights, equality of justice and due process of law, to every human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being." The measure was on the 2010 ballot.
  • On June 3, 2010, Governor of Alaska Sean Parnell vetoed a health care bill that would have, according to Parnell, pay for teens abortions if it had been passed. Much to the dismay of Planned Parenthood, who spoke out against the veto, the governor vetoed the bill because he stated that many abortions are done under the program Denali KidCare. Denali KidCare's health insurance program would have expanded under the bill. The bill was sponsored by Senator Bettye Davis, who said few abortions are done under Denali KidCare. The Anchorage Daily News wrote an editorial stating an opposition to the veto, writing, "Denali KidCare veto is the wrong way to oppose abortion."[58][59]

Previous years

  • This wasn't the first time the issue of abortion was proposed for voters of the state. In 1982, voters decided on a measure that would have prohibited state funding of abortions "except upon written certification of a physician that the procedure was necessary to preserve the life of a patient." However, the measure was defeated with a vote of 77,829 (40.8%) to 112,995 (59.2%).

Path to the ballot

The following is a time line of events relating to the ballot measure:

  • July 2, 2009: Alaska Division of Elections certified application for circulation, stating there were sufficient number of sponsor signatures.
  • January 15, 2010: Petition drive deadline passed, signatures submitted to the Alaska Division of Elections
  • February 24, 2010: Filed lawsuit over ballot language heard in Alaska Supreme Court.
  • March 12, 2010: Signatures were certified by the Alaska Division of Elections.
  • March 16, 2010: Superior Court Judge Frank Pfiffner ordered that the language for the ballot measure be rewritten in order to be placed on the ballot.
  • March 24, 2010: Alaskans for Parental rights filed year end report with Alaska Public Offices Commission.
  • May 20, 2010: Oral arguments heard by the Alaska Supreme Court dealing with appeal of the ACLU of Alaska on ruling that allowed measure to stay on the ballot.

See also

Additional reading





  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Alaska Division of Elections, "Petition Status" (dead link)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 Anchorage Daily News, "Court hears challenge on parental notification today," February 23, 2010
  3. Catholic News Agency, "Parental notification initiative passes with crucial catholic support," August 27, 2010
  4. One News Now, "Challenge likely on parental notification," August 27, 2010
  5. Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, "Abortion help offered to pregnant Alaska teens," August 26, 2010
  6., "Prop 2 backers brace for legal challenges," September 24, 2010
  7. Anchorage Daily News, "Lawsuit filed challenging parent abortion notification," November 23, 2010
  8. One News Now, "Challenge likely on parental notification," August 27, 2010
  9., "Judge allows parental notification to stand, but with changes," December 13, 2010
  10., "State Looking to Reconsider Decision Over Parental Notification Law," December 27, 2010 (dead link)
  11., "Judge Hears Arguments on Parental Notification Law," September 8, 2011
  12. National Right to Life News, "Alaska Judge Gives Planned Parenthood More of What it Wants in Challenge to Parental Notification Law," October 4, 2011
  13. Anchorage Daily News, "Trial challenging Alaska abortion law begins," February 13, 2012 (dead link)
  14. Alaska Dispatch, "Alaska judge says parental notification law doesn't violate state constitution," October 9, 2012
  15. Alaska Division of Elections, "Ballot Measures Appearing on the Primary Election Ballot," accessed August 19, 2010
  16. 16.0 16.1 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  17. The Parental Involvement Initiative, "An Act relating to parental involvement for a minor's abortion," 2009 (dead link)
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Anchorage Daily News, "Palin backs initiative on parent notification of abortion," May 3, 2009
  19. Kodiak Daily Mirror, "Parnell speaks on ballot initiatives," June 2, 2010
  20., "Alaska Pro-Life Advocates Need Signatures for Parental Notification on Abortion," December 13, 2009
  21., "Alaska Do You Know?"
  22. Catholic Culture, "Alaska bishop: Vote yes on parental notification," August 2, 2010
  23. Alaskans for Parental Rights, "About"
  24. Homer Tribune, "Parents are not an ‘intrusive mandate’," July 28, 2010
  25. Anchorage Daily News, "Parents can't be with teens all the time," August 17, 2010
  26., "Parnell to appear at abortion initiative fundraiser," June 14, 2010
  27. Anchorage Daily News, "Honesty on Measure 2 vital for teen girls," July 7, 2010
  28., "Alaska Churches Urged to Promote Vote for Parental Notification on Abortion," July 2, 2010
  29. Life News, "Alaska Mother Mourns Her Daughter's Secret Abortion, Ballot Vote in Late August," August 6, 2010
  30. Anchorage Daily News, "Measure 2 could put girls' lives at risk," July 26, 2010
  31. Homer News, "Parental consent on abortion won't protect rape victims," April 28, 2010
  32. Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, "Too wrong," July 22, 2010
  33. Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, "Troubled teens," July 22, 2010
  34. Life News, "Pro-Abortion Groups Refuse to Debate Merits of Alaska Parental Notification Vote," August 9, 2010
  35. Alaska Dispatch, "Abortion initiative radio, web ads run afoul of APOC," July 26, 2010
  36. Life News, "Alaska Planned Parenthood Reworks Ads Against Parental Notification on Abortion," July 28, 2010
  37. Alaska Public Offices Commission, "2009 Group Reports"
  38. 38.0 38.1 Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, "Group opposing Alaska parental notification initiative has more cash," July 27, 2010
  39. Alaska Dispatch, "Abortion initiative attracts big donations on both sides," July 28, 2010
  40. Life News, "Alaska Abortion Advocates Spending Big to Stop Parental Notification Vote," July 26, 2010
  41. California Catholic Daily, "A David vs. Goliath battle," August 16, 2010
  42. Anchorage Daily News, "Our View: Right call," June 3, 2010
  43. Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, "Balanced measure: Notification preserves a bit of parental involvement," August 20, 2010
  44. Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, "Communication’s the issue with 2," August 19, 2010
  45. Juneau Empire, "Empire editorial: Vote no to both," August 23, 2010
  46. The Alaska Journal of Commerce, "Opinion: Discrimination hides within ballot measure 2," August 20, 2010
  47., "Groups appealing ruling on abortion notification initiative language," April 5, 2010
  48. Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, News Reports, April 7, 2010
  49. Anchorage Daily News, "State's high court to hear about abortion initiative," May 1, 2010
  50. Miami Herald, "Alaska high court justice recuses herself from abortion case," May 13, 2010 (dead link)
  51. One News Now, "AK Supreme Court supports pro-life petition," June 7, 2010 (dead link)
  52. KTUU, "Parental notification battle rooted in initiative process," May 20, 2010
  53. Medical News Today, "Alaska Supreme Court Hears Arguments In Appeal Of Parental Notification Ballot Initiative," May 24, 2010
  54. Life News, "Alaska Pro-Life Group Submits Signatures for Parental Notification on Abortion," January 19, 2010
  55., "State verifies signatures for abortion initiative," March 12, 2010
  56. Citizen Link, "Alaskans to Vote on Abortion Initiative," March 16, 2010
  57., "Court decision, Parnell veto put abortion on the ballot this fall," June 5, 2010
  58. Anchorage Daily News, "Our view: Bad decision," June 5, 2010