From the Bishops Parental involvement supports a culture of life

Many Alaskans are not aware that in our state a young woman less than 18 years of age can obtain an abortion without the knowledge of her parents. They must have permission to go on a field trip or obtain an aspirin from the school nurse; however, current law does not require any parental involvement or even notification before a minor undergoes an abortion.


How did we get to this sad state of affairs? In 1997, the Alaska Legislature passed a law that required the consent of at least one parent before a doctor could perform an abortion on a girl under 17 years of age. However this law was immediately blocked from being enforced by a state judge. Ten years later, the justices of the Alaska Supreme Court, by a narrow 3 to 2 vote, agreed with the lower court’s decision and declared the parental consent law to be unconstitutional.


Fortunately, there is an effort underway that will at least partially remedy this situation.


Alaskans for Parental Rights is sponsoring a statewide signature gathering campaign with the goal of collecting the signatures of 40,000 Alaskan voters by Oct. 6. This will place the initiative on the August 2010 ballot. If adopted by voters, this initiative would change Alaska law so that parents would be notified before an abortion is performed on their minor daughter. Although a majority of three justices on the Alaska Supreme Court declared that a parental consent law was unconstitutional, their opinion suggested that a law requiring only parental notice would be upheld.


I encourage our Catholic population to support this important pro-life effort by signing the petition. I also encourage those who have time to become petition circulators and help gather as many signatures as possible to ensure the success of this endeavor. You can view the wording of the initiative online at:


Alaska is one of only 14 states that do not have a law requiring some form of parental involvement, either notice or consent. Parental involvement laws protect the health and welfare of minors as well as the natural right of parents to rear their children. Such laws have proven to increase teenage sexual responsibility and lower birthrates among teens. Although parental consent laws are more effective than laws that simply require notice a parental notice law is better than nothing at all. At a minimum a parental notification law brings the abortion decision into the light of day, and ensures that a frightened girl does not make a life-changing decision without the benefit of her parents’ love and wisdom. 


The purpose behind parental involvement laws is clear. Because of their age and inexperience, young people often lack the ability to make fully informed choices that take into account both immediate and long-range consequences. Yet the medical, emotional, psychological and spiritual consequences of abortion are grave and can last for a lifetime. I believe it is true that with an abortion, more than one life is lost.


Polls show that nearly 80 percent of Alaskans favor parental involvement in their daughter’s abortion decision. By signing this petition, you are sending a strong message that Alaskan parents should be involved in the health care decisions of their children. Thank you for your efforts to encourage a culture of life. For more information, please visit the Alaskans for Parental Rights Web site at


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