Over the past few months, states like Kansas and North Dakota have moved so-called “fetal personhood” measures as a challenge to Roe v. Wade. On Friday, Alaska’s Supreme Court reaffirmed that such anti-abortion laws would not hold up in this state.
In 2010, Clinton Desjarlais sponsored an initiative stating that the right to life starts at conception, outlawing abortion in almost every circumstance. It never made it to the ballot.
Before Desjarlais could even start collecting signatures for his initiative, the Department of Law concluded that such a law would be “clearly unconstitutional.” Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell decided not to certify the measure.
The issue of fetal personhood has long been important to Desjarlais. He campaigned on it as a fringe candidate in two state races. So, Desjarlais took his case to the courts. After the Superior Court ruled against him, the Supreme Court heard his argument.
Desjarlais represented himself, and made references to the “United States Constitution, the Bible, the Declaration of Independence, maxims of law, the Nuremberg Trials, various Alaska statutes and rules of procedure, and various dictionaries” to make his case that abortion should be illegal in nearly every situation, including rape. He also requested a jury, demanded that the state’s attorneys show their law licenses, and asked for the judges give proof that they had taken an oath of office.
The Supreme Court was not persuaded by his arguments. The judges unanimously ruled that such a sweeping anti-abortion measure would violate not just Roe v. Wade, but the state’s own constitution.