Alaska officials reject ‘unconstitutional’ abortion-banning measure
ANCHORAGE, Alaska, January 12, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Alaska’s lieutenant governor has decided not to certify a ballot initiative that would effectively make abortion illegal, following advice from the state attorney general who said the measure would run afoul of Roe v. Wade and rulings by the Alaska Supreme Court.
Anchorage citizen Clinton Desjarlais had applied to get his Natural Right to Life initiative before voters in the next election cycle.
The initiative would have mandated that the state “protect the natural right to life and body of all mankind from the beginning of biological development.”
“We the People affirm that the natural right to life and body of the unborn child supercedes [sic] the statutory right of the mother to consent to the injury or death of her unborn child,” the proposed language states.
It then states, “In life threatening situations the law of necessity shall dictate between the life of the mother and her child.”
However, the Juneau Empire, a local Alaskan journal, reports that Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell rejected Desjarlais’s proposed ballot initiative on Tuesday, saying that “the controlling case law made this clearly unconstitutional.”
Treadwell was advised by a legal opinion issued Monday by state AG John Burns.
Burns said the initiative fulfilled three out of four state requirements for a ballot initiative, but failed on the last requirement that it contain no “prohibited subjects.” The AG told Treadwell that the Natural Right to Life initiative was “clearly unconstitutional” and therefore a “prohibited subject.”
Burns stated that the three main clauses of the initiative “indicate that the law is intended to extinguish a woman’s constitutional right to privacy as recognized by the United States Supreme Court and the Alaska Supreme Court.”
Burns added that the Alaska Supreme Court’s interpretation of a constitutional right to privacy is even “more protective than the federal constitutional right” established by the 1973 Roe v. Wade. Both longstanding state and federal case law, therefore, barred the Natural Right to Life Act from being considered as a valid subject for the initiative process.
Treadwell, who says he is pro-life, stated that he “did not see very much of a choice” in light of the legal obstacles, according to the Juneau Empire.
Desjarlais, a professed Christian, said the fact that life begins at conception is “readily apparent” and objected that Treadwell did not just ignore Burns’s advice, and certify the initiative anyway.
The Juneau Empire reported that Desjarlais intends to sue the state over what he called “the denial of the right to the initiative process.”