Alaska News Nightly: October 9, 2012

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Court Upholds Parental Notification Law

Alexandra Guiterrez, KUCB – Unalaska

The Anchorage Superior Court released a decision upholding Alaska’s parental notification law on Monday. In the process, it also reversed itself on a controversial provision allowing doctors to be prosecuted for knowingly providing abortions to minors without the notification of at least one parent.

The law was passed in 2010 through a ballot initiative, and Planned

Parenthood sued, calling the law unconstitutional. Judge John Suddock did not agree, and upheld the law because of a “compelling state interest” in promoting family involvement.

But even though Suddock kept most of the law intact, he was critical of many of the state’s arguments. He determined that “parental involvement advances no compelling state interest in the health of minor women,” and that it didn’t protect minors from “illicit relationships.”

He also described the criminal and civil sanctions included in the law troubling. Under the parental notification law, a knowing violation could result in a 5-year jail term and a $1,000 fine for a doctor who provides an abortion to a minor without notice to her parents. Suddock called this “draconian,” but allowed this part of the law to go through after the state argued that the statute wouldn’t be enforced. Suddock tossed out a different portion of the law that would open doctors up to civil penalties who violated one of the parental notification statues without realizing it.

Planned Parenthood has not yet decided whether it will appeal the decision, according to attorney Janet Crepps.

City Council Grants Utility Powers To North Star Borough For Natural Gas Distribution

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

The Fairbanks City Council has granted utility power to the North Star Borough for creation of a natural gas distribution utility. The power transfer follows similar action by the city of North Pole last week. It’s part of plan being pushed by borough Mayor Luke Hopkins and a group of assembly members to finance infrastructure needed to truck North Slope gas to Fairbanks.  Gas is a cheaper, cleaner fuel alternative for Fairbanks, but the project requires major investment.

Begich, Senate To Push Fishery Disaster Relief Bill

Peter Granitz, APRN – Washington DC

U.S. Senator Mark Begich says he and other members of the Senate will try to move a fishery disaster relief bill after the election. Time and money will be hard to find.

Human Skull Found Near Wrangell

Ariel Van Cleave, KSTK – Wrangell

A human skull was found near Wrangell over the weekend. As KSTK’s Ariel Van Cleave explains, it appears to be very old.

Long Distance World Championship Sled Dog Race Cancelled

Emily Schwing, KUAC – Fairbanks

The International Federation of Sled Dog Sports, or IFSS, has cancelled the long distance World Championship race scheduled to take place in March.

Being Young In Rural Alaska: Learning Indigenous Language

Sarah Gonzales & Anne Hillman, Content Producers Guild

This week we’re bringing you the first in a new reporting series from the producers of Kids These Days! In twelve reports from across the state, they’re asking the question: “What’s it like to be young in rural Alaska?” Today, Sarah Gonzales in Kake and Anne Hillman in Barrow find out why teaching indigenous language to children is so important.

‘Mildly Racy’ Calendar Pictures Addressed By Army Officials

Tim Ellis, KUAC – Fairbanks

An anonymous complaint over what were called ‘mildly racy’ photos in a calendar put out by a Delta Junction-area nonprofit prompted an obscenity complaint that reached the highest level of the U.S. Army.

Alaska Cruise Season Ends

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau

More cruise ship tourists visited Alaska this year than last. But some ports did better than others.

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