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Parental notification law goes to court

Law for minors seeking abortions set to take effect Tuesday

December 10, 2010|by Christine Kim | Channel 2 News

A controversial issue from the August primary ballot made its way into court Friday. Ballot Measure 2, which passed, and is now the parental notification law, would require minors under the age of 18 to notify a parent or guardian before getting an abortion.

A third group joined in on arguments between the state and Planned Parenthood during Friday's preliminary injunction hearing.

Planned Parenthood and the State of Alaska met for the first time in court, after a ballot initiative was passed in the August primary.

Kevin Clarkson, who represents the sponsors of Ballot Measure 2, requested to intervene, and was allowed to participate in arguments.

Planned Parenthood, joined by other groups and two physicians, says the law is unconstitutional and discriminates against a subgroup of girls.

“It treats minors who seek abortions differently from minors who seek pregnancy to term,” said Janet Crepps of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

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The law requires parents to be notified through phone and then by letter.

If a physician violates the law, it's a felony offense punishable by fine or by imprisonment.

“There are emergency provisions built into these laws. If there's a girl in a position, because of her unique situation the delay threatens harm to her, the doctor is entitled to proceed,” Clarkson said.

According to court documents, there are two ways a minor can avoid notifying her parent about an abortion. She can go before a judge who will determine if she's mature enough to make a decision on her own, or, if she's abused or fears she's in danger, she can write a notarized statement.

The plaintiff says these steps are an unnecessary burden on the minors.

Planned Parenthood argues girls are not required to alert parents about decisions during pregnancy, so why would they have to alert parents about an abortion?

The state argues it has a compelling government interest in protecting minors.

“We think it's crucial that the minor be well-informed before taking the step to terminate the pregnancy and that the parents, they have a constitutional right to parent their child and help them through the decision-making process,” said Mary Lundquist with the State of Alaska.

A balancing act between a girl's choice and a parent's right... That's left up to the courts to decide.

The parental notification law will take effect next Tuesday, but the judge may come up with a decision on Monday.

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