Trial began on Monday in a case brought by Alaska reproductive health service providers, represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Anchorage law firm of Feldman & Orlansky, challenging Alaska's parental consent law. Alaska’s parental consent law, first enacted in 1997 but never enforced, requires pregnant minors under 17 who desire an abortion to first obtain the consent of a parent or guardian.
The Plaintiffs’ attorneys will present evidence proving that Alaska’s law is dangerous to the health of young women and robs them of their rights under the Alaska Constitution. Specifically, the plaintiffs will argue that the parental consent law violates the State Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection, both because Alaska law imposes no similar consent requirement on a pregnant minor who desires to carry her pregnancy to term, or on young men seeking reproductive health care services. In addition, they will argue that the law violates young women’s right to privacy and would even force some young women to carry their pregnancies to term.
"For some young women, speaking with parents about abortion means facing physical and emotional abuse," said Janet Crepps, a staff attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights and lead counsel on the case. "This law not only denies young women their constitutional right to privacy, but it puts them in a situation where they could be seriously harmed or forced to carry a pregnancy to term against their will," added Crepps.
In 1998, Judge Sen Tan – the judge currently hearing the case – granted the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment, ruling the law unconstitutional. In November of 2001 the Alaska Supreme Court reversed summary judgment, holding that the State should be allowed to present evidence in the case.
WHAT: Alaska Abortion Restriction on Minors Challenged in Superior Court
WHEN: Trial Began on January 6 (testimony is expected to take 3 weeks)
WHERE: Anchorage Superior Court, 825 West 4th Avenue, Anchorage, AK
Janet Crepps and Suzanne Novak of the Center for Reproductive Rights and Jeffrey Feldman and Julie Rikelman of Feldman & Orlansky represent the plaintiffs in Planned Parenthood of Alaska et al. vs. State of Alaska. Plaintiffs include Planned Parenthood of Alaska and Jan Whitefield, M.D