In a 4-1 opinion on Friday, the Alaska Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] that the state’s parental “notification law” requiring doctors to inform the parents of minors seeking an abortion is unconstitutional, and cannot be enforced. The Court stated that “we are not concerned with whether abortion is right, wrong, moral, or immoral, or with whether abortions should be available to minors without restriction. We are concerned only with whether, given its stated underlying justifications, the current Notification Law complies with the Alaska Constitution’s equal protection guarantee — and it does not.” Alaska’s parental notification law applies to un-emancipated, unmarried minors, and includes specific requirements for parental notification, a 48-hour mandatory waiting period between parental notification and the termination of a minor’s pregnancy, and criminal and civil penalties for any physician who fails to comply with the notification requirements in terminating a minor’s pregnancy.
Abortion in general continues to be a highly controversial subject in the US. Earlier this month a US district judge issued a preliminary injunction [JURIST report] against a law intended to cut state funding to clinics administering abortions. That same week a federal judge placed an injunction [JURIST report] on an Indiana law that would have banned women from seeking abortion procedures when they are based on race, sex, or the potential for or actual diagnosis of a disability in the fetus. Recently the US Supreme Court ruled [opinion, PDF] 5-3 in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt [SCOTUSblog materials] that a Texas law [HB2 text] imposing certain requirements on abortion clinics and doctors creates an undue burden on access to abortion, and is therefore unconstitutional [JURIST report]. A collection of Texas abortion providers challenged provisions of HB2 requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital and requiring abortion clinics to conform to state standards for ambulatory surgical centers on the grounds that such requirements violated the Fourteenth Amendment as interpreted by the Court in Planned Parenthood v. Casey [text]. The Indiana statute contained a similar “admitting privilege” provision.