The Supreme Court tomorrow will hear arguments in a case involving a challenge to a New Hampshire parental notification law for women under the age of 18 seeking an abortion. The law makes it a crime for a doctor to perform an abortion on a minor without waiting 48 hours after a parent or legal guardian has been notified. The law is being challenged by Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, two clinics (the Concord Feminist Health Center and the Feminist Health Center for Portsmouth), and Dr. Wayne Goldner because it does not include an exception to preserve the health of a young woman under 18. The law does include a judicial bypass option, but no exception for medical emergencies that can’t wait for a judge’s ruling.
Women’s health and rights advocates are also concerned that both the state of New Hampshire and the United States Solicitor General (representing the Bush Administration) are asking the Supreme Court to apply a new legal standard in this case, Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood. They are arguing that no lawsuits should be able to be filed to block enforcement of a new law; rather, the courts should refuse to hear so-called “hypothetical” cases and should wait until an actual harm has been inflicted on an actual woman. “This is a radical argument with dangerous consequences for women’s health,” said ACLU attorney Jennifer Dalven, who will be arguing the case before the Supreme Court on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and the clinics.
The Ayotte case will be heard tomorrow at 11 a.m., following the 10 a.m. arguments in Scheidler v. NOW and Operation Rescue v. NOW, related cases involving anti-abortion violence and access to women’s health care clinics. These will be the first abortion-related cases heard by Chief Justice John Roberts. The Feminist Majority Foundation authored a major clinic violence amicus brief in the NOW cases and signed on to a brief authored by Legal Momentum in the Ayotte case opposing the New Hampshire parental notification law.