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NH Asks US Supreme Court to Review Parental Notification Law

The New Hampshire Attorney General filed a motion with the US Supreme Court Tuesday requesting review of two lower court rulings that struck down the state’s law (HB 763) requiring doctors to notify a parent or guardian of any minor seeking an abortion at least 48 hours before the procedure is performed. The law was found unconstitutional because it failed to provide an exception for the health of the minor. The state is seeking review of two points—whether the lower courts used the correct standard of review, and whether the law in question must provide an exception for the health of the minor if other New Hampshire laws already protect the health of the woman, Kaisernetwork.org reports.

Dawn Touzin, New Hampshire public affairs director for Planned Parenthood, told the Manchester Union Leader that the true anti-choice agenda of the case has become clear with the state’s request that New Hampshire begin using a lower standard of letting a statute stand even if it places a burden on the access to a constitutional right such as abortion. Associate Attorney General Daniel Mullen told the Union Leader that he understands that it is a slim chance that the Supreme Court will respond to the request, as over 4,000 are filed a year.

New Hampshire Governor Craig Benson (R) lobbied in support of the parental notification law and signed it in June 2003. The following November, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and several other women’s groups and health centers in the area brought suit challenging the law. On December 29, 2003, US District Judge Joseph DiClerico found the law unconstitutional two days before the law was to take effect in the state, and issued a permanent injunction to block the statute.

Last November, the First US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling of a lower court that found the law unconstitutional, as the parental notification requirement could only be waived by a judge or if the doctor determined that the patient’s life would be endangered if her parent or guardian were to find out.

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Sources:

Manchester Union Leader 3/1/05; Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report 3/1/05; Feminist Daily News Wire 11/20/03, 12/1/04

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