After 15 years of protracted legal wrangling, Alaska’s parental notice law has been upheld and Planned Parenthood has failed in its attempt to place its financial bottom line and radical political ideology over the health and welfare of minor girls and their families.
In Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest v. State of Alaska, the Superior Court for the State of Alaska ruled that the parental notification law, which requires an abortion provider to give notice to a parent or guardian before performing an abortion on a minor, does not violate the state’s constitution. The court also upheld provisions requiring that the parent or guardian provide valid identification and providing for criminal penalties for those who violate the law.
While the case is likely to be appealed, this decision represents a major victory for the people of Alaska, who have worked tirelessly to adopt and enforce protections for minors seeking abortion. In 1997, the state legislature enacted a parental consent statute, but that law was ultimately struck down under the auspices of the state constitution’s “right-to-privacy,” with the state supreme court holding that the state privacy right confers a broader “right” to abortion than the U.S. Constitution.
But the people of Alaska were undeterred. In 2010, Alaskans passed a ballot initiative requiring that abortion providers notify a parent or guardian before a minor’s abortion. Of course, Planned Parenthood immediately filed suit. Shortly thereafter, Alaskans won their first victory—the state trial court refused to enjoin most of the new law, and the law went into effect while the litigation continued.
While this decision is a tremendous victory, not all of the court’s factual findings were entirely accurate. For example, the court concluded that abortion carries no risk of pre-term birth or psychological harm—risks which are actually well-documented in the medical literature.
But overall, pro-life advocates should be encouraged by this decision. AUL attorneys have been actively involved in the fight to protect minors and parental rights in Alaska. AUL has repeatedly consulted with legislators, attorneys, and other allies in Alaska, filed a brief in the Alaska Supreme Court in defense of the 1997 parental consent law, helped to prepare the attorney who argued in defense of the parental consent law, and vetted the language of the 2010 parental involvement ballot initiative.