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Court refuses to weigh rejection of Idaho parental consent law

SAN FRANCISCO (BP)–The U.S. Supreme Court has let stand a lower court decision striking down an Idaho law that required parental consent before an underage girl could have an abortion.

The high court announced without comment March 28 it would not review a ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that Idaho’s parental-consent law was unconstitutional. The appeals court, which is based in San Francisco, decided in July a “medical emergency” provision in the law permitting abortion without a parent’s consent was too narrow.

There are 33 other states that have enacted laws that are effective in requiring parental consent or notification before a minor’s abortion, according to the National Right to Life Committee. The appeals court ruling in the Idaho case should not impact the parental involvement laws of other states, unless they also are in the Ninth Circuit and have medical exceptions that are as strict as that of Idaho.

The Idaho law, which affects females under 18 years of age, defines “medical emergency” as a “sudden and unexpected physical condition.” Because this definition is narrower than that permitted under Supreme Court rulings, the provision, as well as the law itself, must be invalidated, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit said.

“Without any medical emergency exception, an abortion regulation that could impede a woman’s access to a medically necessary abortion is unconstitutional,” Judge Marsha Berzon wrote for the panel. “[The law] fails to provide sufficient access to an abortion for minor women whose life or health necessitate one.”

The case was Wasden v. Planned Parenthood of Idaho.

The Ninth Circuit consists of federal district courts in these states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington as well as Idaho.

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