New Hampshire Parental Notification on Abortion Bill Advancing

State   Steven Ertelt   Apr 22, 2011   |   3:51PM    Concord, NH

A bill to allow parents the ability to know when their minor daughters are considering an abortion is advancing in the New Hampshire legislature and is expected to eventually get to Governor Lynch’s desk.

Without such a law in place, parents would have to pick up the pieces after their daughter has an abortion and potentially be required to pay for medical bills related to problems afterwards without knowing about the abortion in the first place.

The state House has already approved the measure and it is expected to pass the Senate soon as well. On Thursday, supporters and opponents weighed in during a state Senate committee hearing on the bill before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Rep. Kathy Souza, who sponsored the bill says, “It touches on the whole culture of life, and the integrity of the family. They go hand-in-hand.”

Souza was the sponsor of the 2003 bill that was eventually declared unconstitutional by a lower court. She said the bill is designed to respond to problems a court identified that made it unconstitutional, although the Supreme Court later came back and upheld the law. The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously upheld states’ rights to require parental involvement in 2006 when it held hearings on the New Hampshire law that abortion advocates took to the high court in a legal challenge after it became state law.

“States unquestionably have the right to require parental involvement when a minor considers terminating her pregnancy,” Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote.

In 2007, Governor John Lynch signed a bill that officially repealed New Hampshire’s parental notification law. 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.

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, even though research shows abortions cause mental health problems for women. Lynch has ye to take a position on the new legislation.

The new bill, HB 329, passed 256 to 102 in the state House and it would require that the parents or guardians of a minor girl be notified 48 hours before she can have an abortion. The bill also provides for a judicial bypass, as mandated by the Supreme Court, in the very rare instances where a girl may be subjected to physical violence as a result of sharing her pregnancy with her parents.

“We have before you a bill we are confident will stand the test,” said Souza during the House hearing. “It is time for parents of this state to assert their proper roles, to watch out for, to care for, to protect and to stand by their minor children.”

“I beg you. Do not keep parents out of their children’s lives any longer,” she said.

Some 43 states have parental notification or consent measures in place, and they have proven effective in reducing abortions.

ACTION: Contact your state senators at https://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/senate and Governor Lynch at https://www.governor.nh.gov and urge support for the bill.