Group opposing abortion initiative has big cash lead

ABORTION: Measure's opponents report $107,000 on hand.

July 27, 2010 

JUNEAU -- Alaskans Against Government Mandates has more than five times the money than the group supporting an initiative that would require parental notification for minors seeking abortions.

In disclosures filed with the state, Alaskans Against Government Mandates reported having about $107,000 on hand as of Friday. Much of its contributions have come from Planned Parenthood.

Alaskans for Parental Rights, which supports the proposed initiative, reported about $19,600. That group has drawn support from numerous Republican candidates, including the three highest-profile candidates for governor -- Gov. Sean Parnell, Ralph Samuels and Bill Walker -- but chairman Jim Minnery issued a plea for more money Tuesday.

The opposition is "inundating the airwaves, and there is a very real chance that they will defeat us at the polls on Aug. 24," Minnery said.

"Simply put," he said in an e-mail blast, "they are outgunning us and unless we tell our story far and wide, victory is unlikely."

The filing by Alaskans Against Government Mandates showed it raised about $594,000 in contributions during the reporting period. Alaskans for Parental Rights reported about $84,000 in income.

Under current state law, minors can obtain abortions without their parents or guardians knowing. But if the initiative passes, it would require notification with limited exceptions. For example, in the case of a girl who's been abused by a parent, an adult relative or official with knowledge of the abuse would have to sign a notarized statement attesting to the abuse for her to avoid the noticing requirement.

According to the ballot language, the initiative also would make it a felony for a doctor to "knowingly violate" the notice requirements.

Rhiannon Good, campaign manager for Alaskans Against Government Mandates, expects a hard-fought race.

But "we feel very confident Alaskan voters are going to get it," she said. "We know parents want to be involved, but this type of law just doesn't help."

Earlier this year, a judge ordered the lieutenant governor to rewrite ballot language for the proposed initiative after Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska argued the wording used in petition signature booklets was misleading. But the judge stopped short of keeping the initiative off the ballot and the groups were unsuccessful in their appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Alaskans Against Government Mandates faces complaints it didn't follow new requirements for campaign ads. Those rules require radio and other audio communications to identify the group sponsoring the ad plus the group's top three donors.

Good said Tuesday the group has reworked its ads and materials to ensure that they "all are in complete compliance with the law."

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