Alaska Judge Gives Planned Parenthood More of What it Wants in Challenge to Parental Notification Law

By Dave Andrusko

In a case that both sides expect to eventually be decided by the Alaska Supreme Court, a Superior Court Judge says he will allow Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest to argue its entire case in the lawsuit it filed against Alaska over the Parental Notification law passed in 2010.

The case will be heard February 13 by Anchorage Superior Court Judge John Suddock. The state argued that Planned Parenthood couldn’t prove aspects of its lawsuit which Suddock agreed was correct but only “in a sense.”

“We had hoped to narrow the issues in the case before trial, but we are ready to proceed with a full hearing of all the claims presented by the plaintiffs,” Assistant Attorney General Margaret Paton-Walsh said in an email send to the Associated Press (AP) yesterday. “We are confident that the Parental Notification Law is constitutional and that the evidence at trial will demonstrate that.”

Roughly 55% of Alaska voters approved the law in August 2010. The law requires that girls under the age of 18 to notify their parents or guardians before they have an abortion but includes a judicial bypass. It was to go into effect in December 2010.

Suddock’s latest opinion is of a piece with his previous decisions. In December he allowed Ballot Measure 2 to stand but gutted the civil and criminal enforcement mechanisms which included a fine of up to $1,000 and a section that allowed abortionist to be liable for damage.

Undaunted Planned Parenthood continued its legal challenge, arguing last month “that language in the law is vague, that a 48-hour waiting period is too long and that girls living in rural areas will be discriminated against because there is less access to the judicial system,” according to the AP.

“The state countered that the parental notification law does not violate Alaska’s law of equal protection by treating minor men and women differently regarding access to reproductive health care,” wrote the AP’s Mary Pemberton. “They also argued that it did not put girls living in rural areas at a disadvantage.”

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