by Steven Ertelt
January 28, 2008
Concord, NH (LifeNews.com) — Abortion advocates in New Hampshire have issued the proposal on teens and abortions they said they would put forward after a vote to take the state’s current parental notification law off the books. The new bill requires counseling before a minor teen can have an abortion but leaves parents in the dark.
The previous state law requires an abortion practitioner to notify a girl’s parents when she requested an abortion.
The new proposal would make teens visit with a guidance counselor or health care professional beforehand, but parents are denied their right to know about their teenager daughter’s decision to have an abortion.
Democratic Sen. Kathy Sgambati’s legislation would require counselors to discuss the option of telling the girl’s parents, but there is no requirement to inform the parents about the potential abortion.
Legislators scrapped the notification law last year even though the Supreme Court ruled it could be enforced in part and its unconstitutional sections thrown out.
The notification statute, originally passed by the legislature in 2003, had never been enforced.
Earlier decisions by lower courts found the law unconstitutional but the high court ruled that parts of the law that should be voided could be taken out and the rest of the law could remain intact.
In July, Governor John Lynch signed a bill that officially repealed the statute. Last fall, two state legislators file bills to attempt to revive it.
Raymond Senator Jack Barnes and New Hampton Representative Fran Wendelboe want to bring back the law. They don’t have specific language yet but said it will be an improved version that keeps the rulings of the courts in mind.
They intend to request a 48 hour window whereby abortion facilities must notify the parents of a minor teenager that their daughter wants an abortion.
The bill will include a court-required judicial waiver option for teenagers who come from abusive homes to bypass the law.
The key objection Lynch and abortion advocates had with the notification law was its lack of a health exception, saying parents shouldn’t be told when their daughter supposedly needs an abortion in a problematic health situation.
Wendelboe said her bill will include such language.
Pro-life groups say leaving parents out of the process when their children face serious health concerns makes little sense.
New Hampshire is the first state to repeal a parental notification law. More than half of states have notification or consent laws and they have been credited by reducing the number of abortions done on teens by one-third or more.
Wendelboe fought to keep the law on the books but her measures to simply change the law to conform with the court’s decision were defeated.
She said the state protects teens in other situations and should protect them when it comes to abortion.
"You can’t get a tattoo, or get your ears pierced, you can’t smoke, you can’t ride a bicycle under 16 without a helmet because the state knows better," she said.
Pro-life advocates have been disappointed by the votes and New Hampshire Citizens for Life president Roger Stenson told LifeNews.com, Parents have a primordial right to protect and counsel their children. Children have the right to their parents involvement in their lives."
He said the legislators who voted to get rid of the involvement law "trampled on every family in our state."
He said the vote would encourage secret abortions on minors with people who sexually abuse them taking them for abortions without their parents knowing.
Related web sites:
New Hampshire legislature – https://www.gencourt.state.nh.us