Judge: Parents must be notified before teen’s abortion

By LISA DEMER — ldemer@adn.com

An Anchorage Superior Court judge has upheld as constitutional a state law requiring parents to be notified before a teen’s abortion. But the issue may not be resolved. Both sides expect it will wind up before the state Supreme Court.

Judge John Suddock, in a 65-page decision issued Monday, said the legal requirement does not violate a teenager’s right to privacy. Nor, the judge ruled, does it violate provisions to treat people equally even though a pregnant teen generally cannot receive an abortion without her parents’ knowing, but could get prenatal care.

The law applies to Alaska teenagers age 17 and younger. It says abortion providers must generally inform parents before performing an abortion. Girls can get around the requirement by going to a judge or providing the doctor with notarized statements attesting to abuse at home. Pro-choice advocates say that’s a lot to ask of a girl in crisis.

The law came about through an August 2010 voter initiative that was fiercely contested. Most aspects of it took effect that December.

Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and two doctors sued to block the law, arguing that it could delay or prevent vulnerable girls from receiving an abortion because of the legal hoops and complicated mechanisms. The state argued to keep the law in place, saying that parents should be involved in such an important decision.

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