The Alaska Supreme Court has just made a monumental new ruling that allows teens to get an abortion without a waiting period after parental notification. Until now, after a parent was notified that their teen was getting an abortion there was a 48 hour waiting period, unless the parent okayed having the abortion sooner. The Court ruled that teens were not receiving equal protection under the law of their rights to privacy.
The Associated Press reports:
The majority opinion written by Justice Daniel Winfree states that the court is not concerned with whether abortion is right or wrong or whether abortions should be available to minors without restriction. He said the focus in this case is on whether the law complies with the constitution’s equal protection provisions. It does not, he said.
Justice Dana Fabe, who was chief justice when the case was heard, in a concurring opinion said that while she disagreed with the conclusion that the law violates equal protection, she believes it violates fundamental privacy rights. “I believe that the Alaska Constitution permits a parental notification law, but not one that contains provisions that are among the most restrictive of any state’s notification laws,” her concurrence states.
Abortion activists have advocated for eliminating the waiting period, arguing that it can be dangerous for teens who come from unstable homes. They worried that some teens cannot safely return home after their parents are notified that they are going to receive an abortion. Although teenagers have the legal right to an abortion in Alaska, some parents try to stop their teens from exercising that right.
The Court found that teenagers seeking an abortion faced undue burden on their right to an abortion, which they have been guaranteed since 2007.
Joshua Decker, executive director of Alaska’s American Civil Liberties Union gave a statement saying,
“A young woman seeking an abortion doesn’t need additional hurdles. She needs a doctor.”
With this Supreme Court ruling, teenagers will be able to exercise their right to an abortion without undue interference. The state will pass a new parental notification law, but it will not give parents an opportunity to prevent their teen from exercising their legal rights. Pregnancy itself is an ordeal, and trying to raise a child as a teenager restricts the mother’s ability to receive an education and find a secure job. If a teenager knows that they are not ready for that responsibility they should not be forced to take it on.