New Hampshire Gov. Vetoes Parental Notification Abortion Bill

State   Steven Ertelt   Jun 16, 2011   |   11:26AM    Concord, NH

New Hampshire Governor John Lynch has vetoed a bill that would allow parents to know when their minor daughter is considering an abortion, so they could help the young girls find better alternatives.

Lynch claimed the bill was unclear and too narrow, even though it was written to conform to federal court decisions on what should and should not be included in such a statute. The law would have required abortion practitioners to notify parents of a minor girl considering an abortion and they could have been subjected to a misdemeanor charge if they failed to comply with the law, which requires the notice to be given within 48 hours.

“The decision whether to complete a pregnancy or seek an abortion is a serious and life-changing one for any pregnant woman. Minors need and benefit from the support and guidance of their parents,” Lynch said, according to AP. “However, any law must make reasonable allowances for cases where that is not possible. I am particularly troubled by the lack of an exception for the victims of rape, incest and abuse.”

Lynch, a Democrat, said he would be prepared to sign a parental notification bill into law if it had a health exception allowing abortion practitioners to do abortions when they think the abortion is in the best interest of the daughter, whether her parents know or not. However, such health exceptions in abortion law essentially gut the entire law by making it so abortion practitioners can invent any reason to ignore the law and justify the abortion.

Kevin Smith of Cornerstone Action criticized the governor, according to AP, and said, “Despite the language in this year’s version of parental notification having been vetted at the Supreme Court already, Lynch found fictitious nuances in the proposal in an effort to satisfy the radical abortion lobby.”

The sponsors of the legislation say 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.

But, in 2007, Governor John Lynch signed a bill that officially repealed New Hampshire’s parental notification law. The notification statue, 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.

The new bill, HB 329, passed 256 to 102 in the 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. The Senate voted 17-7 for the bill.

Americans United for Life Action Staff Counsel Mary Harned called on Governor John Lynch to sign the newly passed Parental Notification measure “to provide young girls with protection when facing pressure to have an abortion.”

Harned commended the 256 House members and 17 Senators who voted in favor of HB 329.

“Parents who are in the dark about a minor’s pregnancy are robbed of the opportunity to discuss her options with her, including having her baby, and may fail to recognize her need for follow-up care and support if she has an abortion,” said Harned. “And just as importantly, parents may not be aware that their young daughters have become victims of sexual crimes. We know that some sexual predators have pressured their victims to have abortions to hide their crimes. Parents or guardians must be involved in such an important decision.”

According to the Union Leader, Rep. Kathy Souza, a Republican who sponsored the bill, said it should clear constitutional scrutiny.

“We have before you a bill we are confident will stand the test,” said Souza. “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 Governor Lynch and tell him you are upset at his decision to veto the bill. Contact him at https://www.governor.nh.gov/contact/index.htm