Thursday, February 26, 2009

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin Shifts Back Into Conservative Mode, Publicly Endorses HB35, Rep. John Coghill's Parental Consent Abortion Bill

Post updated February 26th at 10:30 P.M. Alaska time to include more information and links.

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has re-discovered her "conservative" roots. The Anchorage Daily News, ADN's Alaska Politics blog, the Fairbanks Daily News, and KTUU Channel 2 all report that she has publicly endorsed HB35, entitled "Notice & Consent for Minor's Abortion". The Senate version is SB6, sponsored by Senator Donny Olson (D-Nome). Governor Palin's statement of support available HERE.

The House version, sponsored by Rep. John Coghill (R-North Pole and pictured above left) and Senator Donny Olson (D-Nome), and co-sponsored in the House by Reps. Mark Neumann (R-Big Lake), Wes Keller (R-Wasilla), and Nancy Dahlstrom (R-Eagle River), will require parental consent unless the minor chooses a judicial bypass, and enacts a notification process that the Alaska Supreme Court determined is the least restrictive means of achieving the State's compelling interest. It leaves intact the four exemptions from parental consent: married minors, minors who have been legally emancipated, minors who have entered the armed services of the United States, and minors who have become employed and self-subsisting. KTUU extended video embedded below:

Back in 1997, the Alaska State Legislature passed the Parental Consent Act, which required parental consent as a prerequisite for teenage abortions. However, it was immediately challenged, invalidated by an intermediate judge, Sen Tan, and then on November 2nd, 2007 in the case of "State of Alaska v. Planned Parenthood of Alaska", the Alaska Supreme Court, in a 3–2 decision, invalidated the law. Voting to overturn the law was Chief Justice Dana Fabe and Justices Robert Eastaugh and Alexander Bryner; opposing was Justices Walter Carpeneti and Warren Matthews.

If passed, will this new parental consent law be more likely to pass muster with the Supreme Court? Possibly so; on November 16th, 2007, Governor Palin appointed Daniel E. Winfree to replace Justice Bryner. He is presumed to be more conservative than Bryner. However, this could be offset by the impending retirement of Justice Matthews. The Alaska Judicial Council, which is officially non-partisan, has forwarded the names of Judges Morgan Christen and Eric Smith for Governor Palin's consideration to fill the opening. Christen is considered to be a slightly better candidate. Governor Palin also has the option to reject both selections and to choose someone else. The Alaska Family Council has vigorously promoted the restoration of parental consent.

Since HB35 provides a means for a teenage girl who is being abused by her father to seek a judicial bypass by consulting any other officially "responsible" adult, there is no logical reason to object to this bill. Consequently, anyone who does object to this bill will be exposed as being opposed to parental prerogative and authority. So far, public support for HB35 appears to be overwhelming; a KTUU opinion poll shows 76 percent of respondents support HB35.

Rep. Coghill is actually promoting a whole market basket of pro-life legislation, which is further discussed on his personal legislative blog.

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