July 26, 2016
"A young woman seeking an abortion needs compassionate care, not unnecessary hurdles," Joshua Decker, American Civil Liberties Union's "Speak Freely": Last week, the Alaska Supreme Court struck down a law "requiring physicians to notify a parent, guardian, or custodian of a minor seeking an abortion," ruling that it "unjustifiably burdens only minors seeking an abortion -- violating the equal protection guarantees of the Alaska Constitution," Decker writes. He explains that the law would have forced a young woman who wished to seek a confidential abortion "to go through a complicated legal process to persuade a judge to allow her to have an abortion without parental involvement -- forcing abortions later in pregnancy, if the young woman could access the procedure at all." Decker explains, "Mandatory parental involvement laws like Alaska's are opposed by state and national medical experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics because they do not foster healthy communication, and can be very detrimental to the health and safety of young women." He writes, "In fact, the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Society for Adolescent Medicine have all advocated for the need to protect minor[s'] access to confidential reproductive health services." Noting that the government "cannot legislate healthy family communication," Decker concludes, "Instead, young women need safe, prompt, confidential health care, free of government-imposed restrictions" (Decker, "Speak Freely," American Civil Liberties Union, 7/22).