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United States: Alaska Supreme Court Holds Parental Consent Requirement Unconstitutional Under Alaska Constitution

(Nov. 2, 2007) On November 2, the Supreme Court of Alaska held that a law requiring minors to obtain parental consent before obtaining an abortion violated the right of privacy provision of the Alaska Constitution.

The Alaska Constitution includes a provision stating that "[t]he right of the people to privacy is recognized and shall not be infringed." In a 2001 opinion, the Supreme Court of Alaska ruled that the right to privacy extends to minors, and the state can constrain a pregnant minor's privacy right only when necessary to further a compelling state interest and only if no less restrictive means exists to advance that interest. In its decision November 2, the court ruled that the state had a compelling interest in protecting minors from their own immaturity and in aiding parents in fulfilling their parental responsibilities. However, the court ruled that a law requiring parental consent before a minor can obtain an abortion was not the least restrictive means available to achieve this compelling state interest. It stated that a parental consent requirement effectively shifted the right from the minor to the parents. The court suggested that a parental notification requirement, as opposed to a consent requirement, might pass constitutional muster. (Alaska v. Planned Parenthood, No. 6184 (Alaska Nov. 2, 2007), available at http://www.state.ak.us/courts/ops/sp-6184.pdf.)