Alaska Supreme Court to consider whether parents need to know when child seeks abortion

Alliance Defending Freedom allied attorney arguing before state high court Wednesday
Wednesday, February 19, 2014

WHO: Alliance Defending Freedom allied attorney Kevin Clarkson
WHAT: Oral argument in Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest v. State of Alaska
WHEN: Wednesday, Feb. 19, immediately following hearing, which begins at 1:30 p.m. HAST
WHERE: Alaska Supreme Court, 303 K St., Anchorage

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Alliance Defending Freedom allied attorney Kevin Clarkson will argue Wednesday before the Alaska Supreme Court in defense of a voter-approved state law that requires at least one parent to be notified before a minor child can obtain an abortion. Clarkson is lead counsel on behalf the group that sponsored the ballot initiative for the law.

Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest filed suit against the law, which voters approved through Ballot Measure 2 in August 2010. The law provides an option for a judge to bypass the notification requirement in special circumstances.

“Abortionists don’t care more about children than parents do,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Steven H. Aden, co-counsel in the case. “Alaska’s Parental Involvement Law, which an overwhelming majority of citizens adopted through a state ballot initiative, is a reasonable and constitutional measure. It ensures that parents may exercise their right and responsibility as parents to counsel their daughters in one of life’s most difficult moments.”

The Alaska Supreme Court has previously found that “the Alaska Constitution permits a statutory scheme which ensures that parents are notified so that they can be engaged in their daughters’ important decisions in these matters.”

In October 2012, a trial court upheld most of the law and concluded that it is reasonable because “minors may be pleasantly surprised when underestimated parents support, comfort and affirm them. Or a teen might overlook available resources. Her parents might help raise the child, and so make college or military service feasible. Parental notification undoubtedly can open doors to unconsidered options for an otherwise isolated young woman… The court concludes that the PNL [parental notification law] sufficiently fosters a potential for worthwhile family involvement that it passes constitutional muster….”

The trial court upheld the entirety of the law except for two provisions: one that allowed parents to sue in civil court if an abortionist fails to obey the law and a provision that required clear and convincing evidence at bypass hearings. The court chose to leave enforcement to the state and to allow judges to use a preponderance of the evidence standard when considering a bypass request.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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