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Court Strikes Down Parental Notification Law

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  • Court Strikes Down Parental Notification Law

    N.H. Abortion Law Found Unconstitutional

    CONCORD, N.H. A federal judge on Monday declared a New Hampshire law that would require parental notice (search) before a minor could get an abortion to be unconstitutional.

    The ruling came two days before the law was to have taken effect.

    U.S. District Judge Joseph DiClerico said the law is unconstitutional because it lacks an exception to protect the minor's health.

    Attorney General Peter Heed had argued that that law gave judges enough leeway to grant exceptions, but DiClerico disagreed.

    "The attorney general has not explained how the judicial bypass provision would address the need for an immediate abortion to protect the health of the mother, and the provision on its face is insufficient to meet such a need," the judge wrote.

    The state law requires abortion (search) providers to notify at least one parent at least 48 hours before performing an abortion on a minor. The parent would not have to approve the abortion. The girl also could asked a judge for permission, which would have to be granted if the girl was mature enough or the abortion was in her best interest.

    Similar laws have been struck down in other states.

    This summer, the Florida Supreme Court struck down a version there, saying the law violated privacy rights guaranteed by the state Constitution. A federal appeals court in Denver last year ruled that a similar Colorado law was unconstitutional because it provided no exceptions for health emergencies.

    "We won," said Martin Honigberg, one of several lawyers for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, which along with other opponents had sued to block the New Hampshire law.

    Republican Gov. Craig Benson, a strong supporter of the law, said he was disappointed and would work with legislators to pass another notification law.

    "I believe it is the responsibility of parents, not the government, to raise their children," Benson said.

    Benson spokesman Wendell Packard said the governor had not ruled out an appeal.

    The New Hampshire restrictions were hotly debated this spring in the Legislature, where supporters presented it as a parental rights issue. Opponents viewed it as an effort to chip away at abortion rights. The law was the state's only significant restriction on abortion since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in its 1973 Roe v. Wade (search) decision.,2933,106880,00.html