Alaska Supreme Court Upholds Petitions for Parental Notification Initiative

The Alaska Supreme Court Wednesday upheld a trial court’s finding that petitions for a parental notification initiative do not contain confusing and misleading language and are therefore valid. The decision means that the measure, which would require parents to be notified if their minor daughter seeks an abortion, will go on the ballot for voter approval during the Aug. 24 primary.

Planned Parenthood had filed suit to stop the initiative, claiming that the lieutenant governor’s summary of the proposed measure contained on the petitions was confusing and misleading. Alliance Defense Fund attorney Kevin Clarkson successfully argued against Planned Parenthood’s claims on behalf of the Alaska Family Council, the primary supporter of the initiative.

“A minor child’s well being is worth more than Planned Parenthood’s bottom line,” said Clarkson, with the firm Brena, Bell & Clarkson, P.C. “If groups that profit from abortions were truly ‘pro-choice,’ they wouldn’t be going to extraordinary lengths to keep the people of Alaska from voting their conscience on a measure like this. As both the trial court and the Supreme Court concluded, there is no need to invalidate the petition signatures for this initiative.”

In its opinion in Planned Parenthood of Alaska v. Campbell, the high court wrote, “We agree with the superior court and conclude that the lieutenant governor may place the PNI [parental notification initiative] on the ballot without requiring the sponsors to recirculate the petition.”

The lieutenant governor certified the petition signatures prior to the lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood.

In June 2009, ADF awarded Clarkson its Silver Service Award for contributing more than 5,000 hours of pro bono legal services in defense of religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.

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