Today, the Alaska Supreme Court found unconstitutional a law requiring physicians to notify a parent, guardian, or custodian of a minor seeking an abortion. In its decision, the court found the law unjustifiably burdens only minors seeking an abortion — violating the equal protection guarantees of the Alaska Constitution.
The decision comes less than a month after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its historic ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstedt — the most significant abortion-related ruling from the Court in more than two decades.
The evidence in Alaska shows that most young women seeking an abortion involve a parent. But some young women live in an abusive home, or a home where it would not be safe to disclose a pregnancy. The law would have required a young woman to go through a complicated legal process to persuade a judge to allow her to have an abortion without parental involvement — forcing abortions later in pregnancy, if the young woman could access the procedure at all.
Mandatory parental involvement laws like Alaska’s are opposed by state and national medical experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics because they do not foster healthy communication, and can be very detrimental to the health and safety of young women. In fact, the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Society for Adolescent Medicine have all advocated for the need to protect minor’s access to confidential reproductive health services.
We all want children to have a healthy, loving and communicative relationship with their parents. But we cannot legislate healthy family communication. Healthy families don’t need government mandates to communicate. Instead, young women need safe, prompt, confidential health care, free of government-imposed restrictions.