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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

US Supreme Court Avoids Major Abortion Ruling

Gudrun Schultz

WASHINGTON, United States, January 18, 2006 ( – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously today against a lower court’s decision to strike down abortion restrictions in the state of New Hampshire, but stopped short of a major ruling on the necessity of a “health clause” in abortion legislation.

In 2000 the Court of Appeals in Boston ruled in favor of Planned Parenthood New England, which had challenged New Hampshire’s parental notification law. The law required under-age girls to notify their parents before obtaining an abortion. Planned Parenthood said the law was unconstitutional because it did not allow exceptions in cases of a health risk to the girl.

In fact New Hampshire’s parental notification law does make allowances for cases in which the girl’s life is in immediate danger. In all lesser cases of medical emergency, the law requires that parents be notified of physical danger to their child.

The Supreme Court sent the case back to the lower court for further hearings.
Phyllis Woods, a former state representative from Dover, N.H., who was a main sponsor of the law, told the Associated Press she was pleased by the ruling but concerned that the appeals court might require a broad health exception.

"Our concern has always been that a blanket health exception opens the door and really negates the whole purpose of the bill," Woods said

Health exceptions in abortion law have been interpreted so loosely that they have become synonymous with open access to abortion. Opponents say they are simply a method of bypassing legal restrictions to abortion. So far, the Court has avoided addressing the issue directly. It is not considered a constitutional necessity to provide for health exceptions in abortion law, although advocates say the Nebraska ruling in 2000, when the Supreme Court struck down a ban on partial-birth abortion because it did not contain provisions for health risks to the mother, set a decisive precedent.

In 1990 the Supreme Court stood in favor of parental notification laws in Minnesota, in a case almost identical to that of New Hampshire.

A Gallup poll released in November 2005 found almost 70% of Americans support parental notification laws.

See previous LifeSiteNews coverage:
NH Abortion Parental Consent Challenge before Supreme Court

Abortion Notification Law in New Hampshire under Review by US Supreme Court
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