Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Stenberg v Carhart case was last SCOTUS ruling dealing with abortion issue, 2000. This term SCOTUS takes up Stenberg issue, this time whether parental notification laws must account for the health of the minor pregnant girl. ABORTION NOTIFICATION Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England At issue: Is a state law requiring parental notification for minors seeking abortion too restrictive? The case: New Hampshire's legislature in 2003 passed a law making it illegal for an abortion to be performed on a minor unless a parent or legal guardian is notified in writing 48 hours in advance. The only exception is if the procedure is necessary to prevent the mother's death. The arguments: A federal appeals court dismissed the law as too restrictive, since it did not provide broader exceptions to protect the health of the minor when her life was not threatened. New Hampshire claims existing laws provide for such health contingencies. At least 33 states have parental notification laws. The impact: No legal issue continues to resonate more with Americans than abortion. The last time the high court intervened in an important abortion-related case was in 2000, when it threw out a Nebraska law banning a controversial late-term procedure opponents call "partial-birth" abortion. Similar legal arguments are present in the Ayotte case. Since the court's 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion, various states have tried to place restrictions and exceptions on access to the procedure, prompting a string of high court "clarifications" on the issue over the years. A more subtle but potentially monumental argument in Ayotte involves what legal standard should be applied when courts review abortion laws. The judge in this case allowed courts to ban enforcement of such laws before they take effect. Precedent allows for a less-tolerant standard of review, but that standard has never been applied within the abortion context. Currently, justices have applied the "no undue burden" standard when deciding whether abortion laws are too restrictive.

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