Today, the US Supreme Court will rule on the first abortion case to reach it since the partial-birth case of the 90’s. And since it’s a New Hampshire law that’s being challenged, I felt obligated to offer a little background.
First, arguing the case is our Attorney General, Ms. Kelly Ayotte. Ms. Ayotte has a rather colorful background. She was the #2 person in the Attorney General’s office (and quite content) when her predecessor, Peter Heed, got tangled up in a minor sexual-harassment scandal involving a judicial conference, and had to resign. Ms. Ayotte (who was pregnant at the time) became the state’s first acting attorney general, then later the “acting” was removed when the governor nominated her and the state’s executive council approved. That governor (a Republican) was defeated last November, but the succeeding Democratic governor asked her to stay on. So she has the distinction of being New Hampshire’s first female acting AG, first female AG, and the first AG to take maternity leave.
That might have some bearing on her arguments in this case. The New Hampshire law being tested is one of parental notification. It states, simply, that no minor may have an abortion unless the parents are notified at least 48 hours in advance. They need not approve, but must be told. The sole exceptions are if a judge grants approval, or the mother’s life is at risk.
The backers very carefully did not include “mother’s health” as an exception. They said they had seen too many cases where “health” was extended to include “emotional” or “psychological” health, or other stretches that made the restrictions meaningless. They wanted to close up that loophole, and are asking the Supreme Court to give it their imprimatur.
Planned Parenthood of New Hampshire is — no great surprise — the opposing party. They say that the mother’s health should be an overriding concern, and that it represents an unreasonable intrusion, as well as an assault on the Roe V. Wade precedent.
Either way, New Hampshire’s legal system is getting its day in the sun. I think we’ll do all right.
Kelly Ayotte biography
http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2003/hb0763.html“>Text of the law
Update: Link to Planned Parenthood’s brief corrected. Thanks, Denny.