Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, et al. v. State of Alaska
08.27.12 - This case challenges a law which would require a young woman seeking an abortion to have at least one of her parents notified of the procedure and to wait at least 48 hours before she could obtain the procedure, unless the young woman sought a judicial bypass of the parental notification requirement from a court.
Filing date: 11/19/10
Plaintiff(s): Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, Jan Whitefield, M.D., and Susan Lemagie, M.D.
Co-Counsel/Cooperating Attorneys: Jeffrey Feldman and Susan Orlansky, Feldman Orlansky & Sanders, Thomas Stenson, ACLU of Alaska Foundation, Diana Kasdan and Andrew Beck, ACLU Foundation, Laura Einstein, Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and Eve Gartner, Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Summary: Alaskan minors have been able to obtain abortions without state-mandated parental involvement for more than 30 years. In 1997, the Alaska Legislature passed a law requiring parental consent or a court order before a minor under the age of 17 could obtain an abortion. The Center successfully challenged that law; it never went into effect and in 2007 the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that it violated the right to privacy under the Alaska Constitution.
In 2009, anti-abortion forces in Alaska applied to have an initiative included on the 2010 ballot requiring parental notification for abortion for young women under the age of 18. The Center challenged the Lt. Governor's certification of this initiative for the ballot; the Alaska Supreme Court allowed the initiative, with some changes to its summary, to be placed on the ballot and Alaskan voters approved the initiative in August 2010. The parental notice requirement was scheduled to take effect on December 14, 2010.
The Center filed suit on November 19, 2010, representing Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and two Alaskan physicians on behalf of themselves and their patients, and simultaneously filed a motion seeking a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the Parental Notification Law ("PNL"). The Center argues that the PNL violates the constitutional rights of Alaskan minors to equal protection and privacy and of Alaskan physicians to due process under the Alaska Constitution. Furthermore, the Center explains that the PNL will put some Alaskan minors at risk of severe harm, particular those in abusive homes, and cause other harms including increasing the health risks for some minors. In response to the Center’s request for a preliminary injunction, Superior Court Judge John Suddock issued a partial injunction, allowing the notice provision to take effect, but prohibiting enforcement of many of the law’s most burdensome requirements, including the criminal penalties. The case went to trial in February of 2012 and we are awaiting a final decision from Judge Suddock.