In 1997, the Alaska legislature passed a bill which, if it had gone into effect, would have prevented any unmarried woman under 17 years of age from having an abortion in Alaska unless she has obtained the consent of a parent, guardian or custodian, or a court order authorizing the procedure. , CRR immediately challenged the law in state court, arguing that the consent requirement violated the rights of young women and abortion providers under the Alaska Constitution.
Filing date: 07/25/97
Plainiff(s): Planned Parenthood of Alaska
CenterAttorney(s): , Janet Crepps, Suzanne Novak
Co-Consel/Cooperating Attorneys: , Jeffrey Feldman & Susan Orlansky of Feldman & Orlansky
Summary: In our trial in this case, we put on evidence demonstrating that while most teenage girls involve a parent or other adult in the decision to have an abortion, some young women who are in abusive or other difficult family situations don’t feel that they can turn to their parents. For example, D.M. was 16 years old and living in a remote corner of Alaska when she discovered she was pregnant. She knew her guardian would not let her have an abortion. Desperate, she confided in a teacher and a local preacher’s wife, threatening to kill herself or get an illegal abortion. The teacher and preacher’s wife arranged for her to have an abortion in Anchorage. When D.M.’s guardian found out what had happened, she was angry enough to give up custody of the girl. The guardian testified that she would not have given consent for the abortion if it had been required unless D.M.’s life was in danger.
The Center prevailed at trial in 2003 and the Alaska Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s ruling in 2007, putting an end to the litigation after 10 years. , In its decision, the Alaska Supreme Court recognized that giving parents “veto power” over a minor’s decision to terminate a pregnancy robs teenage girls of their fundamental rights.