As many of you probably already know, Alaska joined the Parental Notification Club back in August. Consequently, for young women in Alaska seeking an abortion, this means less access, bigger obstacles, and higher risks. In light of these implications, Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest challenged the Parental Notification law in court last Friday on grounds that the law violated minors’ rights and singled out abortion services as the only medical care related to pregnancy that requires parental notification. Unfortunately for Planned Parenthood, Superior Court Judge John Suddock blocked the request. The law is scheduled to take effect today.
Although Judge Suddock’s decision is disappointing in scope, there were several positive revisions in his ruling. For instance, Judge Suddock removed a provision that would have held physicians liable for damage and severely criminalized young women’s reproductive health choices. Other revisions include more efficient methods of notification and significantly less severe punishment deployed against young women who break the law. Prior to these revisions, anyone who violated the law would have faced up to a $1,000 fine and imprisonment of up to five years.
The fact that this policy even made it past the Midterm election and into the courtroom is appalling. It’s a clear indication that women’s reproductive choices are under attack, and the reproductive bodies of young women are particularly vulnerable. I think it’s also important to note that this battle for young women’s reproductive autonomy in Alaska is not happening in a vacuum. It’s part of a larger movement aimed at limiting women’s access and disciplining young people’s reproductive and sexual bodies. Parental Notification laws simply mask the complexity of young women and deny their ability to exercise rational choices.
Andrew (AJ) is a vehement progressive, youth activist, and reproductive justice organizer. When he's not busy with the movement, you can usually find him dancing in the club or watching trashy reality tv.