On this past Friday the Alaska Supreme Court issued a decision overturning a state law allowing parents the right to agree to or deny abortions their minor teenager daughters may be considering. The state’s parental consent law has been tied up in court ever since the state legislature approved in in 1997. It is refreshing to hear that Alaska’s Supreme Court had the good intelligence to protect teenagers and allowing a path to their emancipation. In other words they would not be forced to carry a pregnancy and go through labor if they did not want to endure this process which may place their bodies in harm’s way.
The most important point here is that the rights of the individual outweigh the rights of other’s trying to impose their view on what that individual should or should not do with their body.
The court issued a 3-2 decision on the law stating that it denies a teenager her right to an abortion.
Both the majority and the two dissenting judges agree that parents should play a vital role in their children’s lives and health care decisions but the majority said parents should not have a veto power to override a teen’s decision to get an abortion.
Justices Walter Carpeneti and Warren Matthews issued dissents in the case and said the state legislature carefully balanced the right of parents and teenagers and said the measure “is the least restrictive alternative which will effectively advance the state’s compelling interests while protecting the child’s constitutional right.”
Information on providers who offer abortion care or the abortion pill can be found at a number of sites including Abortion.com and RU486.com. According to statistics from the state health department, there were 1,923 abortions in Alaska in 2006 and 126 were done on girls 17 or younger who would have been subject to the parental consent law.
The ruling is the second time the Alaska Supreme Court has weighed in on the parental consent law. In 2001, the justices ruled the measure invalid and cited the state’s privacy clause as the reason, despite any wording saying the clause was meant to uphold an unlimited right to abortion.
Hopefully, this can be seen as a positive step toward maintaining the right of an individual to choose privately the choices they make in their reproductive lives.