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Alaska Supreme Court: Parents have no rights regarding minor daughters’ abortions

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Young girls considering abortion, as well as their parents, faced a setback after the Alaska Supreme Court struck down a law requiring parental notification for minors seeking an abortion. The state’s Superior Court initially upheld the law in 2012, as Live Action News reported, and the initiative was supported by 56 percent of voters in 2010.

The 4-1 decision took the cop-out route in saying that they were not deciding abortion for minors, but did conclude that the law violated equal protection for minors, saying, “The State expressly disclaims any interest in how a minor exercises her fundamental privacy right of reproductive choice, and it does not suggest that it has an interest in limiting abortions generally or with respect to minors specifically.”

The majority went on to wash its hands of being “concerned with whether abortion is right, wrong, moral, or immoral, or with whether abortions should be available to minors without restriction,” but in doing so they may have ignored the extent to which this law will affect young pregnant women in Alaska and their preborn children.

The law wasn’t unrealistic, nor did it place an “undue burden” on minors. But America’s largest abortion chain sees things differently. While the majority of Alaska voters agreed that parents should have the opportunity to counsel their children toward other options, Planned Parenthood again placed itself in direct opposition to parents, celebrating the Court’s decision on Twitter, with the hashtag #UndoTheBurden.

But what ‘burden’ would that be, exactly? The Associated Press reported (emphasis mine)…

Alaska’s notification law did not apply to girls ages 16 or 17 who were married, supported themselves independently or had court orders specifying they had been emancipated from parents or guardians. Girls who did not want to notify parents about an abortion had the option of getting permission from judges.

Girls who said they were abused by one or both parents could bypass the notification process by providing a notarized statement signed by the victim and another person who knew about the alleged abuse. The law included an exception for medical emergencies.

The Court’s lone dissenter, Justice Craig Stowers, got it right:

One obvious purpose of this law is to provide the minor’s parents the opportunity to discuss with their daughter the potential effects of and alternatives to abortion. This is beyond doubt a legitimate interest and right that the State and the parents possess. Contrary to the Supreme Court’s clear statement in this regard, the Alaska Court today trivializes and makes this right of no effect.

Interestingly, Judge Stowers’ dissent mentioned Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which was the case that actually created the concept of “undue burden” in the first place. According to Justice Stowers, the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed that the states have an interest in protecting women “and the potential life within her.”

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The Court’s decision was criticized by co-counsel Steven H. Aden of Alliance Defending Freedom, who reiterated some of the points Justice Stower mentioned:

We’re disappointed that the court elevated the demands of abortionists over the rights of parents. The majority of Alaskans supported the Parental Involvement Law and adopted it through a state ballot initiative because it is entirely reasonable. It is very unfortunate the Alaska Supreme Court chose not to give parents an opportunity to counsel and support their daughters when facing a difficult situation—the very opportunity that the court itself previously said that the state constitution permits.

Parental notification laws not only provide parents and their daughters the opportunity to support each other in making this decision, but allow parents to protect their minor daughters.

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