Politics & Government

Alaska ballot measure could limit teen abortions

No one is framing Ballot Measure 2 as a direct referendum on abortion, but if it passes, it will make it harder for teenage girls in Alaska to get one.

The contentious initiative promotes parental involvement before teens can get an abortion. Voters will decide Tuesday whether it should become law.

As it stands, a girl of any age can get an abortion in Alaska without telling her parents, though abortion clinics say that in practice most teens come in with a parent or other trusted adult.

The measure requires parents to be notified at least two days before their minor daughter obtains an abortion unless the teen goes to court or presents notarized statements about abuse in the home.

"Parents have a right to know, and their right to know is essential to the health and safety of our children," said Bernadette Wilson, campaign manager for Alaskans for Parental Rights, the group campaigning for the ballot measure.

Opponents, organized as Alaskans Against Government Mandates, say not all girls can safely approach their parents about an abortion, and it's not realistic for girls in crisis to go to court to avoid letting their parents know.

"The government simply can't mandate good family communication, and most teens facing these types of crisis situations already involve a parent, which is a good thing," said Rhiannon Good, campaign manager for Alaskans Against Government Mandates. "Our concern is that this type of intrusive government mandate puts bureaucrats and the courts in the middle of our families' most private affairs. And it doesn't protect those vulnerable teens who simply cannot talk to their parents."

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