“Parents’ rights”…Posted: February 27, 2009
Gov. Sarah Palin on Thursday threw her support behind a controversial bill that would generally require parental consent before girls under age 17 could get an abortion.
She called a press conference Thursday and surrounded by a dozen lawmakers including state Rep. John Coghill, R-North Pole, and Sen. Donny Olson, D-Nome, said:
“Wherever you fall on the abortion issue, right or left, this legislation is about family, and it’s about parents’ rights and protecting our children, and it’s supported by legislators on both sides of the aisle.”
She said she’s throwing her support behind Coghill’s House Bill 35, which backers are calling “parents’ rights” legislation.
In 2007 the Supreme Court ruled a similar bill unconstitutional on a 3-2 vote. That bill passed the Legislature in 1997 and became law over then-Gov. Tony Knowles’ veto. Dana Fabe, who wrote the high court’s majority opinion in 2007, is now the court’s chief justice.
Palin, who has made one Supreme Court appointment and is about to make a second, says it might be different now.
“Thankfully we know we can think optimistically about a court perhaps changing its mind, changing its opinion. Courts revisit their decisions all the time and if they did not, then we would still be in a society that allows segregated schools,” said Palin.
Coghill, one of Alaska’s most outspoken anti-abortion lawmakers, said his bill is different from the overturned law.
For instance, the new version says that abortions cannot generally be performed on girls under 17 “without notice to and the consent of a parent, guardian or custodian.”
If this measure passes and then is challenged as promised, the Supreme Court could strike down the requirement for consent, but leave in the requirement for notice, meaning that parents would have to be told about the abortion but wouldn’t have to give an OK, Coghill said.
The law rejected by the Supreme Court didn’t mention notice to parents, so that wasn’t an option.
The new version has a provision for teens to go to court to bypass the requirement for parental permission. The overturned law had a bypass mechanism as well, but Coghill said it’s been tweaked to make it easier.
Teens who are on their own or married also don’t have to get a parent’s permission, under the measure. “In every area of life we say, ‘You want an aspirin, you want to go on a field trip, you need parental consent to do this.’ This is the only area, because of the constitutional struggle, that we come down to where the parent has no right,” Coghill said. “I so disagree with that.”