Planned Parenthood of Alaska and an Anchorage high school teacher are suing the state to block a voter initiative that would make it illegal for minors to get abortions without notifying a parent.
The suit, filed in Anchorage Superior Court on Friday, is an effort to stop the voter initiative from possibly becoming law. It says the state should not have certified the initiative because of legal technicalities and because it misleads the public.
Parental notification and consent for abortions has been controversial in Alaska for years. In 1997, the Alaska Parental Consent Act was enacted saying girls had to get parental permission, or approval from a judge, before getting an abortion. But the law never went into effect because it was challenged in court. In 2007, the Alaska Supreme Court called it unconstitutional and struck it down.
The latest effort to get a law on the books is backed by several people, including former Lt. Gov. Loren Leman, who has been fighting for it for years, and Kim Hummer-Minnery, whose husband is president of the Christian Alaska Family Council.
Their initiative was certified July 2 by then-Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell.
It would generally require doctors to at least notify a parent if a girl under 18 was getting an abortion.
A similar bill that would have required girls under 17 to tell a parent didn't get far in the state Legislature this year.
Now that the initiative has been certified by the state, supporters need to gather nearly 33,000 signatures to put it on the ballot in August 2010.
Then it is up to voters if it becomes law.
Planned Parenthood and the Bartlett High School teacher, Susan Wingrove, say the language in the initiative gives voters the wrong impression, suggesting it is just minor tweaks to an existing law "rather than making clear that the Initiative is abolishing rights currently afforded to the citizens of Alaska who are minors," according to the court documents filed Friday.
They say the initiative also fails to make it clear that violating the law would be a felony, and that the physician, not the teen, would be required to tell parents.
Leman, reached on Friday evening, hadn't yet read the lawsuit but said he was not surprised it had been filed.
"These people are desperate," he said. "They would deny the people of Alaska the opportunity to participate in the initiative process."
Leman says the proposed law is common sense and that parents need to know what is going on in their children's lives.
Find Megan Holland online at adn.com/contact/mholland or call 257-4343.