Judge hears arguments in abortion lawsuit case

ANCHORAGE — A new state law requiring that parents be notified if their child wants an abortion is one of the most burdensome in the nation, a lawyer said Thursday.

Janet Crepps, arguing on behalf of Planned Parenthood, said a provision in the law requiring corroboration if a girl is pregnant as a result of sexual abuse stands out when compared to other states’ parental notification laws. In such cases, a girl under age 18 is required to have their statement notarized and also must obtain notarized third-party corroboration of the alleged abuse.

“This is a really harsh requirement,” Crepps said after the hearing in Superior Court in which lawyers for the state tried to persuade Judge John Suddock to throw out certain challenges to the new law.

Planned Parenthood of the Northwest wants the challenges to be considered at trial in January.

“We would like to simplify this case for trial,” Assistant Attorney General Margaret Paton-Walsh told the judge.

The parental notification law has been the focus of a lengthy legal battle. The lawsuit, which was brought by Planned Parenthood and two doctors, is expected to reach the Alaska Supreme Court.

Paton-Walsh told the judge there needs to be verification when claims of sexual abuse are being made. Otherwise, she said, girls could use the sexual abuse provision in the law to get around telling their parents they are pregnant.

Former Gov. Loren Leman, one of the three sponsors of the initiative that was passed by voters in August 2010, attended the hearing. He said outside the courtroom that 40 or more states have parental notification laws and Alaska’s law probably can be grouped with those that are least restrictive.

“It is just parental notification,” Leman said. “Is it a perfect law? I don’t know of any law that is perfect.”

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