Alaska court strikes down parental notice for abortions

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska Supreme Court on Friday struck down a state law requiring parental notification of a minor seeking an abortion.

The court found the law, approved by voters in 2010, violates the state Constitution and cannot be enforced.

The majority opinion written by Justice Daniel Winfree states that the court is not concerned with whether abortion is right or wrong or whether abortions should be available to minors without restriction. He said the focus in this case is on whether the law complies with the constitution’s equal protection provisions. It does not, he said.

Justice Dana Fabe, who was chief justice when the case was heard, in a concurring opinion said that while she disagreed with the conclusion that the law violates equal protection, she believes it violates fundamental privacy rights. “I believe that the Alaska Constitution permits a parental notification law, but not one that contains provisions that are among the most restrictive of any state’s notification laws,” her concurrence states.

Justice Craig Stowers dissented.

The law was challenged by Planned Parenthood of the Greater Northwest and others, who argued, among other things, that the law violates minors’ privacy rights and the due process rights of minors and abortion providers. Under the law, parents are to be notified if an unmarried minor, who is not emancipated, seeks an abortion. There is a 48-hour waiting period between notification and an abortion, absent a parent’s written consent. The law does include an exception for medical emergencies and allows for a minor to go to a judge to bypass the notification process.

Christine Charbonneau, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands, hailed Friday’s decision. She says everyone wants teens to be safe but some live in dangerous homes and cannot go to their parents.