Alaska News

Consent for flu vaccine but not abortion?

If it wasn't so irrational and detrimental, it might just be comical. A quick nasal puff of the H1N1 flu vaccine cannot be administered to underage schoolchildren without parental consent. Common sense tells us that parents should be involved in even the least intrusive of medical treatments of their underage children right?

Oh the irony.

Due to an Alaska Supreme Court decision written by then-Chief Justice Dana Fabe in 2007, children as young as 13 years old can walk into an abortion clinic and have their pre-born children exterminated without the consent or even knowledge of their parents.

The type of abortion most often used on these young girls is known as suction and curettage. Prior to this surgical procedure, a dilator is placed in the cervix to slowly enlarge it. To prevent infection, she will be given antibiotics and possibly misoprostol, a medication to induce labor.

The rest of the procedure involves pain medication, injections of anesthesia, and a medication to "slow the uterine bleeding and prevent blood loss."

Finally, "once the cervix is dilated, the doctor will then pass a thin, hollow tube called a cannula into the cervical canal. A gentle vacuum is attached to the cannula and is used to draw the pregnancy tissue out of the uterus." In the end, "the tissue removed from the uterus will then be examined to make sure all pregnancy tissue has been removed and that the abortion is complete."

Did I mention that parental consent is required for a nasal puff? It is also required for minors to get a tattoo, an ear pierced and join a sports team. But not for an invasive surgical procedure known as suction and curettage.


To address this inconsistent and unintelligible ruling, a group of concerned citizens has created the Alaskans for Parental Rights campaign. Our purpose is to gather roughly 45,000 signatures in order to bring this issue before the voters next year. To date, thanks to the phenomenal and tireless efforts of almost 500 volunteer circulators from Ketchikan to Unalaska to Nome and everywhere in between, we're halfway there. We have until the end of the year to reach our goal.

Predictably, Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, along with recently retired Alaska Supreme Court Justice Alex Bryner -- one of the judges who voted with Justice Fabe -- are taking us to court. The lawsuit claims the summary language approved by former Lt. Gov. Parnell's office is too confusing. Other parts of the lawsuit are procedural in nature and have nothing to do with the substantive issue of parental rights.

The primary argument the other side has is that we shouldn't require young girls to inform their parents about an abortion because of the risk of potentially abusive homes. Kids could get hurt. This line of reasoning defines a straw argument. To begin with, although they unfortunately exist, there are statistically very few teenagers who face serious threats from parents if they tell them they are pregnant. For those who do face such dire straights, a parental notification law is just what these kids need.

Opponents of a parental notification law offer no real solution for such scenarios. Let the minor get the abortion without anyone involved except the doctor. How does that help a teenager struggling under oppressive and possibly explosive parents?

Our law provides multiple opportunities to protect children from violent homes and brings others into the scene who might actually assist the potentially endangered youth. For minors who are able to make their case before a judge, by phone if necessary, they can have the notification requirement waived. By getting an affidavit signed by an older sibling, neighbor, social worker or other responsible adult willing to verify that the home is not safe, again, the notification requirement is voided. In either case, other conscientious people are becoming engaged in that youth's world.

In the end, those seeking to silence and stop this effort are facing an uphill battle. If getting an aspirin requires parental consent, the majority of Alaskans are smart enough to realize that getting an abortion should as well.

Jim Minnery is president of Alaska Family Council and chairman of Alaskans for Parental Rights.


Jim Minnery

Jim Minnery is president and founder of Alaska Family Action, statewide, pro-family public policy organization that exists to provide a voice on social and cultural issues impacting Alaskan families.