by Steven Ertelt
November 28, 2005
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The Supreme Court will hold hearings on a New Hampshire parental notification law on Wednesday and while the ruling regards an important limit on abortions, it won’t affect the legality abortion in general. Pro-abortion groups disagree and say the decision could undermine a key component of the high court’s decisions allowing abortions.
The case is Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and it has to do with whether the state’s parental notification law is enforceable without a health exception.
New Hampshire’s attorney general, Ayotte, argues the judicial bypass provision in the state law is sufficient to handle health emergencies, which don’t normally require an abortion to address. Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion business, says the exception is needed and points to the Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling saying abortions are allowed in any kind of health situation.
Should the high court uphold the law, abortion advocates say it undermines the health exception they’ve fought so long to protect.
"The question in this case isn’t whether Roe v. Wade is going to be overturned, but whether it is going to be severely undermined. Call it ‘death by a thousand cuts,’" Neil Siegel, a professor of law and political science at Duke and a former Supreme Court clerk, explained.
NARAL, a leading pro-abortion group, agrees and sent out an emergency alert to its members Monday about the case.
"If Ayotte is decided the way the Bush administration wants, politicians — not doctors — will judge when patients can and cannot receive the [abortion] they need," it said.
"A decision in favor of the Bush administration’s standards would give a green light to states to pass laws that deny women access to abortion in medical emergencies," NARAL added.
Siegel said the court will have an opportunity to re-evaluate it’s "undue burden" standard for striking down pro-life laws. In that standard, established in 1992, any pro-life limit on abortions could be overturned if it posed a vaguely defined "undue burden" on women. Since then, courts across the country have used the standard to invalidate some abortion laws.
New Hampshire wants the high court to adopt what’s known as the "Salerno standard." That’s a standard used to evaluate laws that says someone must be adversely impacted by the law before bringing a challenge to it. With the undue burden approach, pro-abortion groups merely have to assert that someone could possibly be adversely impacted.
Pro-abortion retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor will be on the court to hear the case Wednesday but may not be around when the high court votes, assuming the Senate approves nominee Samuel Alito to replace her beforehand.
That makes it more likely the high court will uphold the law, which further concerns pro-abortion groups.
NARAL understands the impact of the potential replacement vote and is strongly opposing Alito’s nomination.
"If Samuel Alito is confirmed, he would tip the Court against the right to choose for decades, and Ayotte is just a sample of the kind of case he will encounter in that time," it said in the alert.