[JURIST] The Alaska Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Friday that the Parental Consent Act, a state law requiring parental consent before pregnant teens under the age of 17 can have an abortion, violates the teens' constitutional right to privacy. Writing for the majority in a 3-2 decision, Chief Justice Dana Fabe [official profile] said:
The State's asserted interest in protecting a minor from her own immaturity by encouraging parental involvement in her decision-making process is undoubtedly compelling. But by prohibiting a minor from obtaining an abortion without parental consent, the Act effectively shifts that minor's fundamental right to choose if and when to have a child from the minor to her parents.Fabe suggested, however, that a law simply requiring parental notification without consent would probably be valid.
The decision is the product of an initial suit filed by Planned Parenthood of Alaska [advocacy website] against the state that began in July 1997. In 2001 the Supreme Court affirmed a trial court decision granting summary judgment to Planned Parenthood and remanded the case for further proceedings to determine the constitutionality of the Parental Consent Act pursuant to an opinion which had extended the privacy clause of the Alaska Constitution [text] to minors. The Anchorage Daily News has more.