Planned Parenthood, teacher sue to block Alaska initiative

Proposal would require parental consent for minors

Posted: Sunday, August 02, 2009

ANCHORAGE - Planned Parenthood of Alaska and a high school teacher have gone to court to block a voter initiative that would make it illegal for minors to get abortions without notifying a parent.

The lawsuit filed Friday in Anchorage Superior Court says the state should not have certified the initiative because of legal technicalities and because it is misleading.

The initiative was certified July 2 by then-Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell. It would generally require doctors to at least notify a parent if a girl under 18 was getting an abortion.

Supporters need to gather nearly 33,000 signatures to qualify the initiative for the August 2010 ballot.

Planned Parenthood and Bartlett High School teacher Susan Wingrove say in the lawsuit that language in the initiative gives voters the wrong impression, suggesting it just makes small changes to existing law "rather than making clear that the initiative is abolishing rights currently afforded to the citizens of Alaska who are minors."

They also say the initiative fails to make it clear that violating the law would be a felony, and that the physician, not the teen, would be required to tell parents.

A backer of the initiative, former Lt. Gov. Loren Leman, told the Anchorage Daily News that he had not yet seen the lawsuit, but he said he was not surprised it had been filed.

"These people are desperate," Leman said. "They would deny the people of Alaska the opportunity to participate in the initiative process."

Leman said the proposed law is common sense and that parents need to know what is going on in their children's lives.

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