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Alaska Supreme Court upholds rejection of abortion initiative

  • Author: Craig Medred
  • Updated: September 27, 2016
  • Published May 3, 2013

The Alaska Supreme Court has upheld the state of Alaska's decision in January 2011 to block from the ballot a voter initiative on abortion it deemed unconstitutional.

Clinton Desjarlais, sponsor of the Natural Right to Life initiative, had submitted for the ballot a measure that, if passed, would have effectively banned abortion. His initiative read: "The State of Alaska shall protect the natural right to life and body of all mankind from the beginning of biological development. We the People affirm that the natural right to life and body of the unborn child supercedes the statutory right of the mother to consent to the injury or death of her unborn child. In life threatening situations, the law of necessity shall dictate between the life of the mother and her child."

Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, acting on the advice of the Alaska Department of Law, rejected the application in January 2011 on grounds that it was unconstitutional. When Desjarlais challenged the decision in court, he lost. The Superior Court judge determined that Treadwell and his office had made the right decision, guiding by both the U.S. and Alaska constitutions.

On Friday, the Alaska Supreme Court again upheld the State of Alaska's initial determination. In its decision, it called the initiative "clearly unconstitutional." The measure would have violated a woman's right to privacy, protected under the federal precedent set in Roe v. Wade and the Alaska constitution, the justices found.

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