Alaska Parental Notification Law Upheld by Superior Court


Alaska teens, who are 17 years of age and younger, either have to inform a parent before getting an abortion, or undergo an arduous judicial-bypass process, thanks to a 2010 ballot amendment that made parental notification a state requirement. Court challenges have questioned the constitutionality of the rule, citing a teen’s right to privacy, but so far, the law stands.

Via Anchorage Daily News:

Besides upholding the overall law, [Anchorage Superior Court Judge John] Suddock struck some aspects, while reinstating others — including the possibility of criminal penalties — that had been blocked since a preliminary ruling in December 2010.

Suddock ruled that:

• Doctors and clinics who perform abortions without ensuring parents are notified can face criminal prosecution. That element had been on hold. But he struck a provision allowing civil damages against providers.

• Other members of clinic staffs can notify parents — doctors don’t have to do it themselves, even though the voter initiative required it. One witness testified that the process can take an hour or longer.

• Parents who accompany a minor to the clinic must show proof of the relationship, such as a birth certificate, a requirement that also had been on hold.

According to the Anchorage Daily News, less than 90 teens received abortion care in 2011, the first year the law was in effect. Only nine teens used bypass rather than notify a parent. Eight teens received approval from the judge, and one withdrew her request.

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