State vs. Planned Parenthood

Posted: Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Justice Carpeneti's dissent in State v. Planned Parenthood really got me thinking. I vividly remember the embarrassment of having to bring my mother to the theater in order to get permission to see an R-rated movie. I remember having to get countless field trip permission slips signed. I remember having to get numerous documents signed to allow me to be on sports teams. I remember being unable to lift weights or play tennis at Juneau Recreation Center without a parent's consent. Why was parental consent necessary for such seemingly unimportant events? As Justice Carpeneti says, it is because we as a society have decided it vital to protect our youth from their inherent immaturity. As unimportant as these events seemed in my life, they were deemed sufficiently important to require a modicum of parental involvement.

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If I was not mature enough to decide for myself to see a movie, lift weights or play soccer, how can a young girl, on her own, be mature enough to decide to terminate her pregnancy?

The Alaska Supreme Court in State v. Planned Parenthood (available at courts/ops/sp-6184.pdf), has decided that the Parental Consent Act (PCA) requiring a minor of less than 17 years old to get parental consent before terminating a pregnancy is in violation of the Alaska Constitution's right to privacy.

In the "Controlling Alaskans' reproductive rights" letter of Nov. 9, the author attempts to politicize this issue and decision. This is a purely legal issue. It is in this light I ask us to read Justice Carpeneti's dissent. It is an extremely clear and intelligible opinion. It outlines the legal issues involved and the reasoning for which he concludes the majority erred in invalidating the PCA.

There are situations when it would be unnecessary or not in the best interest of the minor to require parental consent. The PCA, by providing for a "judicial bypass," takes into consideration such situations. If a young girl is mature and intelligent enough to make this decision on her own, then with this bypass she is afforded the right to do so. If at the hands of her parents the minor fears or suffers physical, emotional or sexual abuse, she too is offered the opportunity to decide for herself.

As Justice Carpeneti makes clear, the PCA does not fail when balancing the individual's rights with Alaska's compelling interest to protect our youth.

Alexander Sadighi


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