On November 30, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case of Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, a lawsuit brought by Planned Parenthood against the state of New Hampshire seeking to prohibit the state from enforcing a recently enacted parental notification law. The trial and appellate courts both found the law unconstitutional, so the state appealed to the Supreme Court. While the case began as a challenge to a law restricting young womens access to abortion, in fact the issues the Court will consider this fall are much broader than that. The outcome of this case particularly if it is decided after Justice OConnor has left the Court could affect virtually every abortion-related case and statute in the country.
The two primary issues that the Supreme Court will address are:
1. Health Exception:
▪ Must a parental notification law contain an exception to protect young womens health, and how comprehensive must a life exception be to be constitutional?
▪ Note that it is possible, perhaps likely, for the Court to issue a decision that would apply to more than just parental notification/consent laws.
2. Standard of Review:
▪ How many women must be harmed by a restriction on abortion before a court may declare the law unconstitutional?
▪ In other words, what is the standard of review for abortion cases? Is it the standard set forth in Planned Parenthood v. Casey or the much stricter standard set forth in a non-abortion-related case (United States v. Salerno)?
NARAL Pro-Choice Pennsylvania hopes that the Court determines that the Casey standard prevails, and that all abortion restrictions must contain comprehensive health and life exceptions.