Legislature hires attorney to defend parental consent bill

Posted: Sunday, March 03, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- The Legislative Council voted to spend $300,000 on an attorney to defend an abortion bill that had been ruled unconstitutional by an Anchorage Superior Court judge.

The council voted Friday to approve a one-year contract to hire Kevin Clarkson to defend a 1997 law requiring a girl under 17 years of age to receive consent from a parent or guardian before getting an abortion.

Lawmakers approved the contract along party lines. No public testimony was taken until after the vote.

Clarkson had formerly represented Concerned Alaska Parents Inc., a pro-life group, in defending the law.

Superior Court Judge Sen Tan ruled that Senate Bill 24 violated the equal protection provision of the state constitution. He ruled the state needed compelling reason to differentiate between pregnant teens seeking an abortion from those chosing to keep their baby. The state did not provide one, he ruled.

The Alaska Supreme Court reversed part of the decision in November 2001 and ordered the court to hold an evidentiary hearing on the matter.

Gov. Tony Knowles vetoed the legislation after it passed the Legislature. Sen. Pete Kelly, R-Fairbanks, requested the contract.

Kelly questioned whether Knowles' administration would fight the case as aggressively since it was vetoed by the governor.

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