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Alaska

Restrictions on Young Women's Access to Abortion

Alaska law restricts young women's access to abortion.

Is the law enforceable?  Yes.  A ballot measure passed in August 2010 amends a 1997 law mandating parental consent before a woman under the age of 18 can receive abortion care.  The Alaska Supreme Court held that the 1997 law, known as the "Parental Consent Act" was unconstitutional and unenforceable because it violates young women's right to privacy under the Alaska Constitution.  Moreover, the court held that the law did not further a compelling state interest, using the least restrictive means.

Who is considered a minor?  A young woman under the age of 18 who is unmarried, unemancipated, and has been domiciled in the state for at least 30 days prior to receiving abortion care.

What is required - parental consent or parental notice?  Notice.

Who must be notified?  One of the minor's parents, legal guardian, or custodian.

Are there other trusted adults who may be notified instead?  No.

What is the process for providing notification?  A young woman may not receive abortion care unless the attending physician notifies one parent, legal guardian or custodian by telephone or in person 48 hours before providing abortion services. If, after "reasonable steps" are taken to provide notice, notification still has been unsuccessful, the referring or attending physician may provide "constructive notice" in the form of written notice sent by certified mail.

May parental notification be waived if a young woman is a victim of rape or incest?  In the case of sexual abuse by one or both of the minor's parents, guardian or custodian, the court can provide consent.  The court must have notarized statements by the minor and another person who has personal knowledge of the abuse.  There is no explicit exception in cases of rape.  

May parental notification be waived if a young woman is a victim of child abuse?  Yes. In the case of sexual, physical, or emotional abuse by one or both of the minor's parents, guardian or custodian, the court can provide consent.  The court must have notarized statements by the minor and another person who has personal knowledge of the abuse.

May parental notification be waived if a young woman's health is threatened?  Yes, but only if, in the attending physician's clinical judgment, a medical emergency exists.  A medical emergency is defined as a medical condition of the young woman that necessitates an immediate abortion to preserve her life or for which a delay will create "serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function."

May parental notification be waived under any other circumstances?  Yes.  The young woman may try to obtain permission from a judge.

If a young woman must obtain permission from a judge, what is the process?  She must secure a court order stating, by clear and convincing evidence, that she is mature and well informed enough to make an intelligent decision, that there is evidence that she has been subject to physical or sexual abuse or to a pattern of emotional abuse by one or both parents, or that parental consent is not in her best interests.

Are there other significant requirements under the law?  No.

Has a court considered the constitutionality of this law?  Yes.  A lower state court ruled that this law is unconstitutional under the state constitution, but the state supreme court reversed this ruling and sent the case back to the lower court for an evidentiary hearing to determine the law's constitutionality.  Planned Parenthood of Alaska, Inc. v. State, No. 3AN-97-6014 CI (Alaska Super. Ct. Feb. 25, 1998) (summary judgment), (Alaska Super. Ct. Oct. 5, 1998) (final amended judgment), aff'd in part, rev'd in part and remanded, 35 P.2d 30 (Alaska 2001).  On remand, the trial court found the law unconstitutional and unenforceable.  Planned Parenthood v. State, 3AN-97-6014 C1 (Alaska Super. Ct. Oct. 13, 2003).  The Alaska Supreme Court affirmed the lower-court decision.  State of Alaska v. Planned Parenthood, Nos. S-11365, S-11386, slip op. (Alaska Nov. 2, 2007).

Other information about the law:  None.

Alaska Stat. §§ 18.16.010(a), (g) (Enacted 1970; Renumbered 1978; Reorganized 1986; Last Amended 2010); Alaska Stat. §§ 18.16.020 (Enacted 1997 Amended 2010); Alaska Stat. §§ 18.16.030 (a), (b), (c), (j), (n) (Enacted 1997; Amended 2010);  Alaska Stat. §§ 18.16.090(2) (Enacted 1997).


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