Gov. Sarah Palin is backing a ballot measure to bypass the Legislature and make it illegal for teenagers to get an abortion without telling their parents.
The initiative sponsors, including former Lt. Gov. Loren Leman, applied last week to start gathering signatures. The measure would generally forbid a girl under 18 from getting an abortion unless the doctor informed at least one of her parents beforehand.
Palin said she plans to be the first in line to sign up. The governor said she even considered sponsoring the initiative herself, but decided otherwise after checking with the state's lawyers.
"I got a preliminary opinion from Law (Department) just giving me a heads up that critics would certainly file an ethics charge against me if I were to sponsor an initiative. So though I maintain I have First Amendment rights just as any other citizen does, I won't flirt with the notion of giving critics more ammunition to keep filing wasteful ethics charges against me, but instead I'll volunteer to be the first signature," Palin said.
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The sponsors can start collecting signatures once Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell certifies the ballot language as legal. The goal is to get the initiative on the ballot for the next primary election, which will be in August 2010. That would require the sponsors to gather at least 32,734 signatures before the legislative session starts in January.
The abortion rights group Planned Parenthood will oppose the initiative. Many teens come from unhealthy families and could take dangerous steps to avoid the consequences that would come from facing their parents, said Clover Simon, the Alaska vice president of Planned Parenthood.
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