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Supreme Court to rule on parental notice for abortion

WASHINGTON (BP)–The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to rule on a state law requiring parental notification when an underage girl seeks an abortion.

The high court announced May 23 it would review a lower court decision striking down New Hampshire’s parental notification law. Oral arguments in the case will be heard in the court’s next term, which begins in October.

A three-judge panel of the First Circuit Court of Appeals, which is based in Boston, ruled in November that the law is unconstitutional because it does not contain an exception to protect the health of the mother and its exception for a threat to her life is too narrow. The appeals court’s decision upheld the ruling of a federal judge.

The 2003 law says a parent must be notified in person or in writing by an abortion provider when a female under 18 has requested the procedure. The notice must be given 48 hours prior to the abortion. The law also includes a provision permitting the girl to seek a judicial bypass to avoid the notice requirement.

Pro-life lawyer Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, said this is “a critical area of the law that needs to be corrected.”

“It is the parents who have a responsibility to be directly involved in decisions involving the health and well-being of their children,” Sekulow said in a written statement. “To permit minors to get abortions without parents being notified is not only legally flawed but bad public policy.”

Laws requiring parental notification or consent are in effect in 24 states, according to the National Right to Life Committee.

The case is Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood.

In addition to New Hampshire, the First Circuit includes the states of Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

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