The Supreme Court will meet tomorrow to start hearing arguments on Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood, the court’s first abortion case in five years.
On a conference call last night for bloggers, speakers from NARAL Pro-Choice America, the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project and NARAL Pro-Choice New Hampshire explained that Ayotte is about a hell of a lot more than parental notification.
This case isn’t arguing whether or not parents should be notified or give consent when their daughters want to obtain an abortion–it’s about the health of young women:
New Hampshire imposes a 48-hour waiting period after the required notice to at least one parent. Like all states, it provides an exception for conditions that present an immediate threat to a pregnant teenager’s life.
But of the 43 states with parental-involvement statutes, New Hampshire is one of only five that do not also provide an exception for non-life-threatening medical emergencies, and it was on this basis that two lower federal courts declared the law unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court’s decision in the case, Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, may therefore shed light on the contours of the “health exception” that the court’s abortion precedents have required since Roe v. Wade in 1973.
No matter what someone thinks about abortion, I think any parent would want their child to get the best medical care possible. And if your daughter is in medical distress, you would want her doctor taking care of her, not running off to find a lawyer and a judge.
In a press release, NARAL Pro-Choice America president Nancy Keenan said:
The Ayotte case illustrates what’s at stake when it comes to the balance of the Supreme Court…The Bush administration has weighed in on this case, which means it wants politicians – not doctors – to determine when women can and cannot receive the care they need. The Supreme Court’s decision in Ayotte could effectively dismantle Roe v. Wade’s core protection of women’s health and fundamentally alter how doctors challenge abortion restrictions that pose a threat to their patients’ health. If the Court sides with the Bush administration, we also will see an onslaught of anti-choice measures in state legislatures that would all but eliminate the right to choose for millions of American women.
Scary as hell.