A hearing on Alaska’s harsh parental notification law started last week. This law requires parental notification and a 48 hour waiting period for those under the age of 18 seeking abortions. However, the requirements do not stop there. For girls pregnant by sexual abuse, they must also have “their statement notarized and also must obtain notarized third-party corroboration of the alleged abuse.”
This provision seems particularly damaging and intrusive, particularly for girls facing both an unintended pregnancy and abuse.
This quote sums up the concerns of the anti-choice politicians who passed this law with the sexual abuse provision:
“[Assistant Attorney General Margaret] Paton-Walsh told the judge there needs to be verification when claims of sexual abuse are being made. Otherwise, she said, girls could use the sexual abuse provision in the law to get around telling their parents they are pregnant.”
In states with parental notification laws, there is such a thing as judicial bypass where girls can ask a judge to provide consent for the abortion instead of notifying their parents or guardians if they fear retribution or threats to their safety, among other issues. Judicial bypass is still difficult because it requires knowledge of the process, the ability to go to a courthouse during business hours, and the access to transportation in order to get there. Girls who are abused by their parents or guardians may especially be in need of judicial bypass and the protection of the government. What AD Paton-Wash is suggesting is that without this law in place, girls will use judicial bypass to lie about being abused so they don’t have to tell their parents they are seeking an abortion, which seems to be a dubious claim at best and incredibly insulting at its worst. What this law does do is further remove agency over their own bodies from girls and potentially force them to remain in dangerous situations if their abuse cannot be corroborated. .
We can only hope that the Alaskan Supreme Court sees this as a violation of the civil liberties of minors, as well as a danger to their health and safety.