AK Court Rules on Parental Notification

In a decision issued earlier this week, an Alaskan Superior Court judge upheld the constitutionality of a state law requiring parental notification for women under 17 who are seeking an abortion. It is likely that the case will be appealed and considered before Alaska’s state Supreme Court.

Judge John Suddock found that the requirement does not infringe on a girl’s right to privacy, due process, nor amount to unfair treatment, despite the fact that a teen can seek prenatal care without parental knowledge. Despite upholding the law, in his lengthy decision Judge Suddock “found abortion was, by and large, safe and that parental notification didn’t make it safer” and that teens most likely to seek the procedure “were largely mature enough to make their own decisions”.

In response to the judgment, Andrew Beck, staff attorney with the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project said, “This law ignores the fact that for some pregnant teens, parental involvement of seeking the consent of a judge just isn’t a realistic option.” Beck also noted an added burden on Alaskan teens who “may have to travel long distances and take time away from school to attend a judicial hearing.”

This parental notification law arose after a highly contested August 2010 voter initiative. The law took effect in December of the same year. The law permits a judicial bypass, but has been shown difficult for young girls without the means to navigate it. The law does not require parental consent; however, if a parent does not consent to the abortion, there is a 48 hour waiting period before the procedure can be performed.

Media Resources: Anchorage Daily News 10/10/12; Alaskan Dispatch 10/09/12; Chicago Tribune 10/09/12; Feminist News Wire 12/15/10

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