Ruling Upheld that Struck Down NH Parental Notification Law

The First US Circuit Court of Appeals last week upheld the ruling of a lower court that found a New Hampshire law requiring parental notification before a minor could obtain an abortion unconstitutional because it failed to provide an exception for the health of the minor. The state law (HB 763) required doctors to notify a parent or guardian of any minor seeking an abortion at least 48 hours before the procedure is performed, reports the Associated Press. This 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. New Hampshire Governor Craig Benson (R) lobbied in support of the law, according to the Associated Press, 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, Kaisernetwork.org reports. Claire Ebel, executive director of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union, said that the “ruling follows previous court decisions – including those of the US Supreme Court – which have held that a woman, regardless of her age, has a fundamental right to an abortion to protect her health.” Similarly, other US District Court judges have struck down restrictive abortion laws because they did not include an exception for the health of the mother, including the federal abortion procedures ban which has been found unconstitutional in three separate cases this year. DONATE to protect the right to a safe, legal abortion


Associated Press 11/25/04; ACLU Press Release 11/24/04; Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report 1/05/04, 11/30/04

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