Supreme Court Has Upheld Similar Abortion Parental Notification Law

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 30, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Supreme Court Has Upheld Similar Abortion Parental Notification Law Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 30, 2005

Washington, DC ( — As the Supreme Court holds hearings today on a New Hampshire parental notification law, pro-life groups say the high court has already upheld a similar law that didn’t contain a health exception, a key component of today’s debate.

The New Hampshire law is patterned after Minnesota’s parental involvement statute which has no health exception and was upheld as constitutional by the United States Supreme Court.

That law has been in effect for over 20 years with no reported health emergencies suffered by Minnesota teens. North Dakota also has a parental involvement law in effect without a health exception and it has not harmed teens in the 24 years it has been on the books.

Former New Hampshire state Rep. Phyllis Woods, who was the prime sponsor of the parental notification measure in the state legislature, say she modeled her bill after the Minnesota legislation.

She indicated she didn’t want to include a broad health exception that would allow many girls to escape the notification requirements.

"It’s commonly accepted wisdom that the health exception is a giant loophole in which you can drive through any abortion you want," Woods said.

"If you have a 13-, 14-, or 15-year-old girl scared out of her wits, and now you have a health problem, how important is it to involve the parent especially in those circumstances? How can you not involve the parent? It’s totally illogical to me," Wood explained.

Mary Balch, an attorney for National Right to Life who handles state legislation, says the claims by abortion advocates that a health exception is needed is a "red herring."

"When a minor daughter confronts a medical emergency, she needs her parents most," Balch explained. "As knowledgeable doctors have briefed the Supreme Court, an immediate abortion would not be appropriate treatment for any non-life threatening complication of pregnancy."

Balch said the New Hampshire law does not preclude a doctor from treating any medical emergencies and does contain an exception allowing immediate abortions for life threatening medical emergencies.

Wendy Wright, of Concerned Women for America, added, "While abortionists claim that a medical emergency would require committing an abortion on a minor without her parent’s knowledge, none of the plaintiffs in this case claim to have ever treated a minor suffering from a medical condition that necessitated an emergency abortion."

"And yet they convinced lower courts that the entire law must be thrown out on this specious claim," Wright explained. "We expect that the Supreme Court will look at the medical evidence as well as the legal reasoning, will respect the role of parents in knowing and caring for their daughters."