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Vote shows Measure 2 winning, Measure 1 losing

Lisa Demer

Two voter initiatives on Tuesday's ballot were as contentious as any of the candidate campaigns.

Ballot Measure 2 would require parents to be notified before their teens age 17 and younger received an abortion. With half the ballots counted, voters appeared to be approving it.

The other initiative, Ballot Measure 1, sought to restrict lobbying and campaign contributions. But six in 10 voters were rejecting it.

Tuesday's election marks the first time Alaska voters have confronted a restriction on abortion at the polls.

The abortion measure was one of the most hard-fought items in the primary election, with total spending by both sides combined nearing $1 million.

Both sides were campaigning furiously in the days leading up to the election. Volunteers were working phones, waving signs and walking neighborhoods.

Under the initiative, pushed by anti-abortion activists, the girl's doctor would have to notify the parent or make sure other options were followed. A doctor who failed to do that could be hit with felony charges and a prison sentence of up to five years.

Teens could get around the notification requirement by appearing before a judge or submitting notarized statements to the doctor attesting to abuse at home.

Thirty-four states already require parental involvement -- either consent or notification -- before teens can get an abortion,.

Supporters say parents have the right to know if their minor daughter undergoes an abortion. It's a potentially risky medical procedure and parents need to be informed in case of physical complications or depression, said initiative backers.

Opponents had argued that the government can't mandate communication in families. Girls from troubled homes might end up getting a riskier, late-term abortion or having a baby they don't want rather than go to their parents or a judge, opponents said.

Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, which operates abortion clinics in Anchorage, Juneau and Fairbanks, says most teens already involve a parent or other trusted adult before getting an abortion.

As of last week, the group trying to defeat the abortion measure had raised more than $800,000, five times as much as supporters. Much of that money came from Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union.

The other ballot measure was pushed by former Fairbanks legislator Dick Randolph. Supporters of Measure 1 said they were targeting sweetheart deals and wanted to put an end to "pay to play" politics. But they abandoned their campaign just as the Alaska Public Offices Commission was pushing its main donor to reveal where its money was coming from.

Opponents, including unions, nonprofits, local governments and business organizations, contended Measure 1 would stifle the ability of many Alaskans to participate in government. Their side raised more than $1 million to fight it.

According to a state attorney general analysis of the measure, government contract holders and their extended family members wouldn't have been able to make campaign contributions. No government money could have been spent on lobbying or on political campaigns. Legislators and their aides would have been prevented from working for government contractors for two years. Violating the measure would have amounted to a crime.

Find Lisa Demer online at adn.com/contact/ldemer or call 257-4390.


By LISA DEMER
ldemer@adn.com