History of parental consent law in Alaska

1997: Passed by Legislature, became law over veto by then-Gov. Tony Knowles. Challenged immediately. Never went into effect. What it did: Required girls younger than 17 to get a parent’s or judge’s permission before obtaining an abortion.

1997: Appealed by ACLU, Planned Parenthood and local doctors.

1998: Superior Court Judge Sen Tan rules the law unconstitutional. The state appeals.

2001: Alaska Supreme Court orders Judge Tan to hear testimony and decide if the law furthers “a compelling state interest” using the “least restrictive means” available. This is a standard balancing test used to decide if something is important enough to the state that it should be allowed even if it might infringe on a citizen’s rights.

2003: Superior Court trial held as ordered.

2003: Judge Tan rules the law does not meet the compelling state interest-least restrictive means test. He ruled it unconstitutional under the equal protection and privacy clauses of the Alaska Constitution.

2004: The state appealed Tan’s ruling to the Alaska Supreme Court.

2005: Oral argument before the Supreme Court

2007: In a 3-2 vote, the Supreme Court rules the law unconstitutional on privacy grounds.

Changes in Alaska Supreme Court:

The votes to overturn the parental consent law in 2007 were cast by Justices Dana Fabe, Alex Bryner and Robert Eastaugh.

Justices Walter Carpeneti and Warren Matthews voted to uphold it.

The current make-up of the court: Fabe and Eastaugh remain on the bench.

Bryner has been replaced by Palin appointee Daniel Winfree.

Carpeneti remains on the bench. Matthews will soon be replaced by an upcoming Palin appointment.

Source: Anchorage Daily News. Associated Press, ACLU