A judge is expected to rule by early next week on a request to block a new state law that requires parents to be notified before a girl younger than 18 has an abortion.
Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and two doctors sued last month to stop the law, which was approved by voters in August and will take effect Tuesday unless the court intervenes.
Arguments in the lawsuit cover the same ground used in the initiative debate, such as the severe potential penalties for doctors, including jail time, and the difficulty girls would have taking advantage of one of the exceptions if they could be harmed by parental notification.
However, the focus at the hearing Friday also was on who might be immediately harmed if the law takes effect as scheduled or if it's delayed.
Planned Parenthood attorney Janet Crepps told Anchorage Superior Court Judge John Suddock the law will violate the rights of minors, singling out abortion as the only medical care related to pregnancy that requires parental involvement. She said the law should be set aside while the case is being decided.
The law will cause an inevitable delay in medical services for girls and that means an increased risk to their health. A delay she said, could mean the difference between an abortion by medication or surgery. The former has to be done by the 49th or 63rd day of the pregnancy, depending on the protocol of the doctor involved, Crepps said.
Abortions in Anchorage are available up to 13.6 weeks into the pregnancy, she said. After that, they become second-trimester abortions available only at one doctor's practice in the state and performed at Mat-Su Regional Hospital outside Wasilla, increasing the burden and expense.
Beyond 19.4 weeks, no one in the state performs abortions unless the pregnant woman's life is threatened in a medical risk, she said.
"If you miss that deadline, you're done as far as getting an abortion in Alaska," Crepps said.
Mary Lundquist, a senior assistant attorney general from Fairbanks, argued against the injunction.
"I think you have to take into consideration that this was an initiative that was passed by the voters of the state of Alaska," she said. "They have taken the position that they want the parental notification law to come into effect. They have full expectation that would happen on Tuesday."