In opposing Alaska’s Parental Notice Initiative, also referred to as Measure Two, Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest “knew from the outset that [its] messages might not be understood or, worse, could be underestimated,” Clover Simon, the group’s Alaska vice president, writes in an Anchorage Daily News opinion piece (Simon, Anchorage Daily News, 9/28).
Alaska voters on Aug. 24 approved Measure Two, which will require doctors to notify the parents or guardians of women ages 17 or younger before providing abortion services. Doctors who fail to comply could face felony charges and prison sentences of up to five years. Teens can obtain a waiver of the parental notification requirements if they appear before a judge or provide the abortion provider with a notarized statement attesting to abuse at home (Women’s Health Policy Report, 8/25).
Simon writes that PPGNW’s “biggest concern with these measures around the country is the safety of young teen women.” She adds that there is “a disconnect when it comes to abuse: Most parents would never abuse their children, so they cannot fathom that another parent would.” Prior to the election, the group “heard that ‘no one in Alaska was really going to make doctors felons for failing to notify parents’ — even though it is in the law, and there are people inside and outside government who would use this law to close the practices of doctors who perform abortions,” Simon continues.
Supporters of Measure Two “framed it as an issue involving the ‘rights of parents to know what their children were doing so that they could support them,’” she writes. “However, make no mistake — that is not what the proponents had in mind,” Simon continues, noting that the Alaska Family Council — one of the groups supporting the measure — is opposed to all abortion procedures and that its “goal is to make them illegal or, failing that, unavailable.” Although antiabortion-rights advocates “will not succeed in ending a woman’s right (including the right of a minor) to choose,” because abortion is a constitutional right, “they will make young women wait longer to get an abortion, the procedure will be medically riskier, some even as risky as childbirth, and, most distressingly, they will risk the well-being of young women in bad situations as a result of family violence,” Simon writes.
PPGNW “will do everything in [its] power to help teens in this situation connect positively with their parents,” and “[i]f a teen chooses not to involve a parent, Planned Parenthood will assist her in navigating a bypass,” according to Simon. She continues that Alaska “remains a very-pro-choice state on the issue of a woman’s right to choose abortion,” and the “majority of voters who turned out for the primary did not see Measure Two as being about abortion but rather as about loving and concerned parents’ desire to be helpful in a stressful time in the life of their child.”
She continues, “Passage of Measure Two does nothing to prevent teen pregnancy or abortions.” She adds, “What does? Medically accurate sex education, access to effective birth control and parents talking with their children about sexual health and their family values long before they think about sex” (Anchorage Daily News, 9/28).
Reprinted with kind permission from nationalpartnership. You can view the entire Daily Women’s Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery here. The Daily Women’s Health Policy Report is a free service of the National Partnership for Women & Families.
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