NH: Federal Judge Strikes Down Parental Notification Law

A federal judge yesterday blocked a New Hampshire law from taking effect that would require minors to notify their parents before they had an abortion. Adolescents who could not show proof within 24 hours that they had notified at least one parent would have been prohibited from obtaining an abortion, unless they had received a judicial bypass. “We are delighted with the court’s decision,” said Jennifer Frizzell, public affairs director for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, a plaintiff in the case. “This law would have endangered the health and lives of young women seeking abortions in New Hampshire,” she told the Boston Globe.

The major factor in US District Judge Joseph DiClerico’s decision was the lack of a broad health exception. “Although the New Hampshire act includes an exception to the notification requirement when an abortion is necessary to prevent the death of a pregnant minor, it does not include an exception to protect her health short of fatality,” DeClerico wrote, according to the Concord Monitor. The ruling did not address the other argument raised by a coalition of pro-choice organizations that challenged the law, that the law does not protect a minor’s confidentiality if she sought a judicial bypass, according to the Monitor.

Gov. Craig Benson, a Republican who is a major supporter of the law, plans to either appeal the decision or to ask lawmakers to redraft the legislation to address Judge DeClerico’s concerns, the Globe reports.

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Concord Monitor 12/30/03; Boston Globe 12/30/03

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