Planned Parenthood Challenges Parental Notification Law
Currently parents and guardians must be notified of abortion
ANCHORAGE - Planned Parenthood, of the Great Northwest, is continuing its legal challenge to a law that more than half of Alaska voters agreed on in August 2010.
It requires a doctor to notify a parent or guardian of a girl before she has an abortion if she is under 18-years-old.
Planned Parenthood is trying to prove that the notification law is unconstitutional. The group said the law violates a minor's privacy rights and denies minors equal protection under the law.
The Anchorage Superior Court heard from two witnesses brought up from the Lower 48 by Planned Parenthood.
Dr. Philip Darney, who is a professor or gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California, told the court he believes minors are entitled to the same access to health care as everyone else and that requiring parental notification is a way to restrict access.
Darney said he's against the notification law because in his experience some girls are afraid they'll face violence from their family or partner if they tell them about the pregnancy or about the wish to have an abortion.
Darney added girls might be forced to have the baby even if they don't want to.
The second witness brought forward by Planned Parenthood was Dr. John Santelli from the School of Public Health at Columbia University. Santelli told the court he believes it's important for parents to be involved in adolescent health, but making it mandatory creates problems.
According to Santelli, when adults go to the doctor they expect confidentiality and if teenagers aren't provided confidentiality they might not disclose what is really going on.
The parental notification law has bypass provisions that help girls in certain circumstances. The law has protections for minors living in abusive situations and for girls who can't inform a parent of an abortion.
In these circumstances the girl has to prove her case before a judge before an abortion is performed. Since the law was enacted 14 months ago there have been seven requests from minors to use the bypass provision in Alaska.
Judges granted the bypass six times.
The superior court trial is expected to last more than two weeks.