(by Susan Jones, CNSNews.com) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that a lower court was wrong to strike down New Hampshire’s parental notification law.

In a unanimous decision written by retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the justices let the abortion restriction stand.

The case, Ayotte vs. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, challenged a New Hampshire law requiring girls under 18 to get a parent’s consent before having an abortion.

As Cybercast News Service reported earlier, two key questions in the case are whether a child can objectively make life-and-death medical decisions under the stress of an unintended pregnancy; and whether she can provide sufficient details of her medical history to protect her health.

But the court did not rule on the central issues, including whether the law placed an “undue burden” on women. Instead, the justices simply said the lower court went too far in blocking the law.

O’Connor’s ruling said the courts, in this particular case, “chose the most blunt remedy” and did not need to invalidate the New Hampshire law “wholesale.”

An appeals court must now reconsider the law, wire reports said.

This was the first abortion case to come before Chief Justice John Roberts; and the first abortion case the court has taken up in five years.

Ruling applauded

The American Center for Law and Justice, which filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in the New Hampshire case, said the justices “got it right.”

“The unanimous decision by the high court underscores the fact that parents have a critical role to play in the health and well being of their children — especially when considering an abortion,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ.

“While the ruling is very narrow in scope, the fact is that the New Hampshire parental notification law — and others like it — can survive a constitutional challenge.”

The pro-life group National Right to Life called the ruling a victory for parents and girls.

“There is no abortion procedure that can be performed so quickly that there is not enough time to make a short phone call to a minor girl’s parents,” said Mary Spaulding Balch, state legislative director of NRL.

“It is outrageous for pro-abortion activists to try to prevent parents from even knowing that an abortion is being performed on their minor daughter,” said Balch. “It is during times like these that girls need their parents most.”

Ruling condemned

NARAL Pro-Choice America decried the ruling as “a stark reminder of the courts’ role in either protecting or undermining the core principles of women’s reproductive freedom.”

“The Ayotte case is an example of how lawmakers at the state and federal levels are continuing to exploit every opportunity to take away our reproductive freedom — even while Roe v. Wade stands,” said NARAL President Nancy Keenan.

NARAL is issuing its 15th annual report “summarizing women’s access to healthcare nationwide and exposing the persistent threat facing reproductive freedom across the 50 states.”

“While it is certainly heartening that the Court did not use this case to overturn specific precedents that protect women’s health, this decision does mark a departure from prior cases,” said Keenan.

“In the past, abortion restrictions that did not include protection for women’s health would have been struck down in their entirety. After today’s decision, that is no longer the case,” she said.

“We may not know the full impact of this decision on the lives of American women for years to come,” Keenan added. “We do know that this decision could be a green light to anti-choice legislators to enact laws that endanger women’s health with an assurance lawmakers did not previously have: That for women and their doctors these restrictions could remain largely enforceable.”

Reprinted here with permission from Cybercast News Service.  Visit the website at www.cnsnews.com.


1.  What is New Hampshire’s parental notification law?

2.  Describe two key questions in the case Ayotte vs. Planned Parenthood.

3.  What reason did the Supreme Court justices give for their decision?

4.  Define amicus brief.

5.  What is the ACLJ?  What is important to Jay Sekulow about the Supreme Court’s ruling?

6.  Re-read the statements made by the National Right to Life (pro-life) in paragraph 14 and by NARAL (pro-abortion) in paragraph 16.  With which group do you agree?  Why?

7.  Is a law requiring girls 17 and younger to have a parent’s consent before having an abortion a good thing?  Explain your answer.

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