New Hampshire Teen Abortion Counseling Bill Attacked From Both Sides

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 5, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New Hampshire Teen Abortion Counseling Bill Attacked From Both Sides Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 5,

Concord, NH ( — Advocates on both sides of the abortion debate are against a new bill on teens and abortions that leaves parents in the dark while a "counselor" weighs abortion and pregnancy options with their daughters. A leading pro-life lawmaker opposes the measure while abortion proponents are split.

Pro-abortion lawmakers put forward the proposal after a vote last year to take the state’s parental notification law off the books.

The previous state law required 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.

That displeases Rep. Fran Wendelboe, who has her own bill to restore the notification law.

She told the Concord Monitor that this new measure shows abortion advocates were wrong to remove the notification law from the books because it left teens vulnerable.

"That’s the ‘Oh my god, we need to do something to give us some cover’ bill," Wendelboe said.

"I think it’s insulting to parents. I think it’s worse than no parental notification at all," she said, adding the bill "is saying is we’re not only going to take away your parental right, but we’re going to give it to a stranger."

Pro-abortion groups are split with the New Hampshire NARAL affiliate and the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union opposing it and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England backing it.

NARAL says teens shouldn’t be forced to talk to a counselor beforehand, but Ann Larney, Planned Parenthood’s director of public affairs, tells the Monitor the bill only puts into law what she claims already happens before an abortion.

"Any health provider has an ethical obligation to be sure that every patient is making an informed decision," Larney said.

The measure has the backing of Gov. John Lynch, who signed the measure last year to take the notification law off the books.

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.

Wendelboe wants to bring back the law.

She doesn’t have specific language yet but said it will be an improved version that keeps the rulings of the courts in mind.

New Hampshire is the first state to repeal a parental notification law. More than half of the states have notification or consent laws and they have been credited forreducing the number of abortions done on teens by one-third or more.

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