by Steven Ertelt
November 22, 2004
Concord, NH (LifeNews.com) — A federal appeals court issued a ruling on Wednesday saying that a New Hampshire parental notification for abortion law is unconstitutional. The court backed a district judge’s ruling saying the law lacked an exception for cases when there is a medical emergency.
The law requires abortion facilities to notify parents when their teenager daughter is considering an abortion. U.S. District Judge Joseph DiClerico overturned the law in December 2003 and the appeals court upheld his decision.
However, the state of New Hampshire argues that a judicial bypass provision satisfies the need for an exception in cases of a medical emergency.
A spokeswoman for Gov. Craig Benson said he was disappointed by the decision, though there was no word as to whether the state would appeal the decision.
Nancy Mosher, executive director of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, told the Associated Press her group was pleased with the ruling.
Courts have upheld similar laws in other states and, in 1990, the Supreme Court upheld a Minnesota notification statute. That law has the same judicial bypass provision that is in the New Hampshire statute, though DiClerico did not mention the ruling in his decision.
Pro-life groups say that making the judicial bypass provision more broad would render the bill useless.
Roger Stenson, director of New Hampshire Citizens for Life, explained that "Abortion providers seek to broaden the medical emergency exception to such an extent that every single abortion would be considered a ‘health’ abortion. This makes any parental notice law ineffective."
Pro-life groups say more should be done to address child abuse rather than authorizing abortions without notification.
Stenson said that "secret abortion on minors is child abuse."
"[T]he abortion industry in New Hampshire has elevated its desire for dead babies over the rights of every parent, the protection of all families, and especially the sacrosanctity of our vulnerable minor girls," Stenson added.
The New Hampshire law was the first pro-life law passed in the Granite State since the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.
Parental notification laws have been credited with reducing teen abortion rates by as much as 30 percent.