High Court Hears Arguments on N.H. Abortion Law

New Hampshire Attorney General Ayotte

New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte leaves the Supreme Court after arguing her case in support of a state law requiring parental notification before a minor has an abortion in Washington Nov. 30, 2005. Reuters hide caption

itoggle caption Reuters

The Supreme Court Wednesday heard arguments on New Hampshire's 2003 law requiring the parents of a minor to be notified before their daughter has an abortion. A federal appeals court ruled the law unconstitutional because it does not provide for an exception if the minor's health is at risk. It does have an exception if her life is in jeopardy.

The New Hampshire law in question hasn't gone into effect. Chief Justice John Roberts made the point, in sometimes tense questioning, that the case doesn't involve a specific plaintiff.

The case marks the first time the Supreme Court has considered an abortion case in five years, but does not directly challenge the landmark case Roe v. Wade. This is just the third time that the court has provided same-day access to audio tape of the proceedings.

The case, called Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, could have broader ramifications for challenging all abortion laws. New Hampshire is asking the Supreme Court to rule that Planned Parenthood does not have the right to challenge the law — that only a woman who believes her rights are being violated can do that. If the justices agreed, it would put a woman challenging a particular law in the position of working through the courts during the short window of opportunity to have an abortion.

—Barbara Campbell

Timeline

Norma McCorvey at the Supreme Court i i

Norma McCorvey (a.k.a. Jane Roe) later renounced the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that affirmed her right to an abortion. Travis Lindquist, Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Travis Lindquist, Getty Images
Norma McCorvey at the Supreme Court

Norma McCorvey (a.k.a. Jane Roe) later renounced the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that affirmed her right to an abortion.

Travis Lindquist, Getty Images

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