- Associated Press - Thursday, February 20, 2014

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - The Alaska Supreme Court is looking at the state’s legally challenged abortion notification law that applies to minors.

The law, passed in a ballot initiative in 2010, requires health care providers to notify the parents of a pregnant minor before she can undergo an abortion. Exceptions allow minors to get abortions if they go before a judge or get a notarized statement saying they were abused.

The state’s high court heard oral arguments Wednesday on the issue, the Anchorage Daily News (http://is.gd/XWZYhF) reported.

A Superior Court judge ruled in a 2012 legal challenge that the law was constitutional. That decision was appealed in 2013 by abortion-rights supporters, which led to the case being heard by the five justices of the state supreme court.

Part of the law remains in effect as the case winds through the legal system, according to state Department of Law spokeswoman Cori Mills.

Opponents of the law, including Planned Parenthood, say the law creates many obstacles for pregnant girls and violates their privacy rights. Supporters say parents should be involved in abortion decisions.

Chief Justice Dana Fabe said a decision on the case will be announced later.

During the proceedings Wednesday, an attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights said the notification law could discourage pregnant minors from seeking any medical care at all. The attorney, Janet Crepps, said Alaska equal rights laws are not supposed to allow the government to treat a girl who wants an abortion differently than one who wants to carry her pregnancy to full term.

“Both groups need timely access to health care in order to adequately protect their health,” Crepps said. “The delays associated with the law will harm minors’ health. What the state improperly characterizes as a sacrifice of parental rights, in favor of minors seeking prenatal care, is actually a sacrifice of the health of minors seeking abortions.”

Margaret Paton-Walsh, an assistant attorney general, was asked by Justice Daniel Winfree if the state had an interest in favoring either a girl seeking an abortion or one wanting to carry her pregnancy to term.

“It doesn’t have interest in affecting the decision, abortion or carry to term,” Paton-Walsh said. “It has a very strong interest in encouraging a girl who has decided to carry to term to seek early and constant prenatal care, so that her health and the fetus’ health is taken appropriate care of, regardless of what her final decision may be.”

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Information from: Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News, http://www.adn.com

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