(CN) – The Alaska Supreme Court has ruled that an initiative that would require parental notification for minors seeking abortions can appear on the August primary ballot, even though the petition summary left out key information.
In 2007 the state high court struck down the Parent Consent Act (PCA), which would have required girls under the age of 18 to get parental consent to have an abortion. The justices said the bill violated the girls’ privacy rights.
The current petition would require girls to notify their parents or guardians — if not gain their consent — before having an abortion. It was
Planned Parenthood of Alaska objected to the petition’s language in a lawsuit against Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell, and the lower court agreed that the petition summary omitted crucial information.
The state Supreme Court upheld this part of the ruling, saying the summary should have included the following information: the petition was a modification of the PCA; parental notification is currently not required; and doctors who perform abortions without parental consent could be jailed for up to five years.
“The type and severity of legal consequences a doctor might face could reasonably give a voter serious grounds for reflection,” the justices wrote.
But the court said the changes were not significant enough to warrant a recirculation of the petitions.
“The petition summary’s omissions did not substantially misrepresent the essential nature of the (petition),” the court wrote. “We discern little hardship to the initiative opponents if the corrected summary is allowed to be used as the ballot summary.”
In a partial dissent, Justice Daniel Winfree said he would have barred the revised initiative from the ballot. He pointed out that the petition signed by voters “was not accurate and impartial.”
“In short, we cannot know for certain that the initiative would have had sufficient support had it been fairly presented to petition signers for ‘informed lawmaking,'” Winfree wrote.