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
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .