News Abortion

Montana Ballot: A New Parental Notification Law Up for Vote In November

Robin Marty

If it passes, a girl of 16 or younger will need to have a parent talk to the doctor before an abortion.

While every other state touting an anti-choice ballot initiative for November appears intent on trying to give legal rights to fertilized eggs, Montana is looking at a different abortion restriction. Their voters will decide whether or not a girl 16 or younger needs to have her parents talk to the doctor before she can get an abortion.

Via The Belgrade News:

Legislator Jerry Bennett, R–Libby, is the primary sponsor of the referendum, LR 120. The Montana Legislature approved the measure for public vote last year during its session.

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He said the referendum isn’t a pro-life or pro-choice issue.

“It’s not an abortion issue for me, it’s the right to be a parent,” he said. “Voters in Montana should have that right to at least be notified before their child has a major surgery.”

Bennett pointed out various issues that require consent, more than even notification, for minors.

“If your young daughter is about to get her ears pieced or get a tattoo or go to a tanning bed, she needs permission. Why not with this issue?” he said. 

As always, the “right to be a parent” outweighs a teen’s right not to be a parent.

News Abortion

Parental Notification Law Struck Down in Alaska

Michelle D. Anderson

"The reality is that some young women face desperate circumstances and potentially violent consequences if they are forced to bring their parents into their reproductive health decisions," said Janet Crepps, senior counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights. "This law would have deprived these vulnerable women of their constitutional rights and put them at risk of serious harm."

The Alaska Supreme Court has struck down a state law requiring physicians to give the parents, guardians, or custodians of teenage minors a two-day notice before performing an abortion.

The court ruled that the parental notification law, which applies to teenagers younger than 18, violated the Alaska Constitution’s equal protection guarantee and could not be enforced.

The ruling stems from an Anchorage Superior Court decision that involved the case of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands and physicians Dr. Jan Whitefield and Dr. Susan Lemagie against the State of Alaska and the notification law’s sponsors.

In the lower court ruling, a judge denied Planned Parenthood’s requested preliminary injunction against the law as a whole and went on to uphold the majority of the notification law.

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Planned Parenthood and the physicians had appealed that superior court ruling and asked for a reversal on both equal protection and privacy grounds.

Meanwhile, the State of Alaska and the notification law’s sponsors appealed the court’s decision to strike some of its provisions and the court’s ruling.

The notification law came about after an initiative approved by voters in August 2010. The law applied to “unemancipated, unmarried minors” younger than 18 seeking to terminate a pregnancy and only makes exceptions in documented cases of abuse and medical emergencies, such as one in which the pregnant person’s life is in danger.

Justice Daniel E. Winfree wrote in the majority opinion that the anti-choice law created “considerable tension between a minor’s fundamental privacy right to reproductive choice and how the State may advance its compelling interests.”

He said the law was discriminatory and that it could unjustifiably burden “the fundamental privacy rights only of minors seeking pregnancy termination, rather than [equally] to all pregnant minors.”

Chief Justice Craig Stowers dissented, arguing that the majority’s opinion “unjustifiably” departed from the Alaska Supreme Court’s prior approval of parental notification.

Stowers said the opinion “misapplies our equal protection case law by comparing two groups that are not similarly situated, and fails to consider how other states have handled similar questions related to parental notification laws.”

Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) officials praised the court’s ruling, saying that Alaska’s vulnerable teenagers will now be relieved of additional burdensome hurdles in accessing abortion care. Attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union, CRR, and Planned Parenthood represented plaintiffs in the case.

Janet Crepps, senior counsel at CRR, said in a statement that the “decision provides important protection to the safety and well-being of young women who need to end a pregnancy.”

“The reality is that some young women face desperate circumstances and potentially violent consequences if they are forced to bring their parents into their reproductive health decisions. This law would have deprived these vulnerable women of their constitutional rights and put them at risk of serious harm,” Crepps said.

CRR officials also noted that most young women seeking abortion care involve a parent, but some do not because they live an abusive or unsafe home.

The American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Society for Adolescent Medicine have said minors’ access to confidential reproductive health services should be protected, according to CRR.

News Abortion

Fiorina Wants Forced Parental Notification in California

Nicole Knight Shine

The GOP presidential hopeful is lending her support to the latest in a string of unsuccessful California ballot measures to mandate parental notification for minors seeking abortion care.

Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina is lending her support to the latest in a string of perennially unsuccessful California ballot measures to mandate parental notification for minors seeking abortion care in the Golden State.

The California Supreme Court struck down a forced parental notification law nearly 20 years ago and similar ballot measures have repeatedly failed to win sufficient signatures or votes. But this go-around, the former Hewlett-Packard chief is backing a new ballot measure in robocalls to Californians, as Mother Jones reported Friday.

“In California, a 13-year-old girl can have a surgical abortion without either of her parents ever knowing about it,” Fiorina’s voice says in the robocalls.

The measure, backed by the anti-choice group Californians for Parental Rights, would apply to unemancipated minors younger than 18. It would require a physician to notify a parent or legal guardian in writing and impose a 48-hour waiting period, among other mandates. Exceptions would be offered in documented and notarized cases of parental abuse, medical emergency, or through a court petition.

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Doctors who failed to comply would be exposed to legal action.

Analysis by the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office suggests the proposed constitutional amendment would reduce access to first-trimester abortions and cost millions annually to administer.

Fiorina, who has positioned herself as an anti-choice standard-bearer in a crowded Republican field, has condemned Planned Parenthood and relayed suspect tales about an abortion video that media reports indicate does not exist. Advocating for the California ballot measure boosts her anti-abortion credibility in a state where 28 percent of voters registered Republican.

Asked whether the former Silicon Valley executive was paid for her participation, Fiorina’s campaign told Mother Jones that “Carly is proudly pro-life and was not compensated in any way.”

It’s unclear whether Fiorina’s backing will gain the perennial ballot measure any traction.

The proposed restrictions are the fifth attempt in a decade by Jim Holman, the founder of Californians for Parental Rights. A 2011 measure failed to make it on the ballot, and California voters defeated earlier measures, with 52 percent voting against it in 2008.

Mother Jones reported that in 2010 and 2011, Californians for Parental Rights filed ten parental notification measures. None made it on the ballot, but the years-long battle cost Planned Parenthood and its donors more than $17 million, as Kathy Kneer, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, told Mother Jones.

This time around, at least five parental notification mandates are vying for a spot on the November 2016 ballot. In early September, the California Secretary of State’s office reported that two measures had already failed to qualify, falling short of the 585,407 signatures required for a constitutional amendment to make it on the ballot. The deadline for Holman’s proposed initiative to gain sufficient signatures is March 15, 2016.

Stephen Hicks and John Smith, the public contacts for one or more of the slate of measures, didn’t respond to an emailed request for comment.

Thirty-eight states require some form of parental consent or notification, according to the Guttmacher Institute. California, however, has not seen the imposition of major abortion restrictions—such as waiting periods and forced parental involvement.

Research published in 2009 in the journal Perspectives in Sexual and Reproductive Health indicates that parental notice laws in other states have led some minors to postpone abortion until the second or even third trimester to avoid parental notification mandates.