By Kathleen Gilbert

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, August 6, 2009 ( – The Alaska branch of Planned Parenthood has launched a lawsuit against a nascent referendum that would allow voters to decide whether parents ought to be notified of their minor's abortion.

Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell certified the initiative in early July, triggering the rush to collect 32,734 signatures to launch the initiative onto the voter ballot.

But Planned Parenthood is fighting the referendum bid in court, claiming it is technically illegal.

“The Alaska constitution has very specific rules about what a citizens initiative can and can't do,” said Alaska's Planned Parenthood president, Clover Simon, in a local news report August 1.  “And one of those rules is that it cannot create court rules. We feel like we owe anyone who is going to vote on this issue should have a very clear and legal law to vote on and this does not meet those requirements.”

Jim Minnery, the president of the Alaska Family Council, said he thinks Planned Parenthood's bid will fail in court.

“It's not a surprise, because typically that's the response that Planned Parenthood has,” said Minnery, whose organization backs the initiative.

“It's just a desperate attempt to try to again thwart the will of the people by Planned Parenthood and then previously by the Alaska Supreme Court.”

While Planned Parenthood claims the initiative fails to account for girls with abusive parents, Minnery says the initiative allows for abortions without the consent of abusive parents, as long as an independent witness presents doctors with testimony of the abuse.  A minor can also bypass parental notification through a court appeal, or in a medical emergency.

“It's such a tiny, tiny percentage of underage kids that get pregnant that come from an abusive or violent home,” said Minnery. “And of course we are aware of that and have done everything possible to protect those kids.”

Parental consent legislation, though backed by former Governor Sarah Palin and the state House of Representatives, failed after stalling in the Senate in April. 

Because similar parental restrictions had been struck down two years ago by the Alaska Supreme Court as unconstitutional, sponsors said the new bill had been amended to resolve constitutionality concerns.  Backers even changed the bill last-minute from parental consent to parental notification to ease passage in the Senate, to no avail.

Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, said Monday that the lawsuit reflects Planned Parenthood's anti-parent mindset.

“Planned Parenthood doesn't want parents to know what it's doing to their daughters or their unborn grandchildren, because it thinks it knows better than parents what's good for young girls,” said Pavone.

“This lawsuit is one more example of Planned Parenthood's anti-parent bias.”


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