Alaska justice steps away from abortion lawsuit

Justice Christen was Planned Parenthood board member in the '90s

Posted: Friday, May 14, 2010

ANCHORAGE - Alaska Supreme Court Justice Morgan Christen has removed herself from hearing an abortion case.

The Anchorage Daily News reports she did not explain Wednesday's decision, but she was a board member of Planned Parenthood in the mid-1990s.

Planned Parenthood filed the lawsuit against a ballot initiative that would require doctors to notify a teenage girl's parents before she had an abortion.

The Alaska Family Council had urged its members to complain to the state judicial conduct commission that Christen had a conflict of interest.

The case will go forward, with the other four Supreme Court justices scheduled to hear arguments May 20.

Clover Simon, vice president of Planned Parenthood of Alaska, said Christen is probably a fair judge but her decision to step aside will remove any potential cloud over the court's decision in the case.

Christen was appointed last year to the Supreme Court by then-Gov. Sarah Palin. The Alaska Family Council had lobbied against the appointment because of Christen's association with Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood is asking the Supreme Court to invalidate the initiative. A Superior Court judge ruled it could appear on the August primary ballot.

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