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Press Release

Attorney General Defends Certification of Parental Notice Initiative

September 30, 2009

Anchorage, Alaska - The Department of Law Tuesday filed its response to a lawsuit alleging that the lieutenant governor should not have certified a citizens' initiative seeking to require 48 hours' notice to parents when their minor daughter is seeking an abortion.

Attorney General Dan Sullivan, who recommended certification to then-Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell on July 2, said that the sponsors' initiative application was in the form required by law and therefore certification was proper.  Parnell certified the initiative after receiving the attorney general's recommendation, and petition booklets are now in circulation by the initiative sponsors.

"The Alaska Constitution gives substantial authority to the people to enact laws by initiative, and the courts have been very protective of that right," Sullivan said. "We believe that the initiative as submitted is sufficient to go before the voters. The Attorney General's Office will vigorously defend the fundamental right of Alaskans to vote on the proposed law."

The lawsuit, filed on July 31 by Planned Parenthood of Alaska and Susan Wingrove, alleges three problems with the application that should have prevented certification. The state's response, filed in Superior Court Tuesday, disagrees.

The state refutes the plaintiffs' allegations that the initiative would unconstitutionally dictate court rules, that the initiative is confusing, and that the summary of the initiative prepared by the lieutenant governor for the petition booklets is misleading. The state's brief comments that the plaintiffs "seem anxious to suppose that [Alaska] voters are uninformed and unintelligent."

The state argues that the sponsors have crafted a law that would be appropriate as a ballot measure and that, if passed by Alaskan voters, would legally accomplish its purpose of giving parents notice that their minor child intends to get an abortion.

For more information, contact Assistant Attorney General Joanne Grace, 269-5237.

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