WASHINGTON - The Alliance Defense Fund and the Christian Legal Society filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court today urging it to protect young women by upholding the constitutionality of the New Hampshire Parental Notification Prior to Abortion Act. The brief encourages the court to reverse a decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit that found the act unconstitutional.
"Parental involvement in a teenager's situation is not only desirable but beneficial to the overall mental and physical health of the teenage mother," said CLS Chief Litigation Counsel Steven H. Aden.
ADF and CLS filed the brief in the case, Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, along with the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Christian Medical Association, the Catholic Medical Association, the National Association of Evangelicals, and Concerned Women for America.
In the brief, the organizations support the constitutionality of the parental notification statute: "New Hampshire's plan for parental certification is a safe and effective means of assuring that the mother receives treatment in a timely manner without risking exposure to dangerous procedures and unscrupulous providers. Should the parents be notified and fail to act in the best interest of their teenage child, the physician has ample recourse either through emergency bypass or through termination of parental rights in a child welfare proceeding."
The brief also offers medical evidence that contradicts the claim that than an immediate abortion would be the accepted standard practice when acute medical complications occur during a teenager's pregnancy. The brief demonstrates that abortion can pose a greater risk to a young mother's health than continuing the pregnancy. The full text can be read here.
The New Hampshire legislature passed the Parental Notification Prior to Abortion Act in 2003, requiring doctors to provide notice to a minor's parents at least 48 hours before performing an abortion on the minor. The statue exempts the physician from notifying a minor's parents if he certifies he must perform an abortion immediately to prevent the minor's death.
A federal district court and the 1st Circuit held the law unconstitutional on the grounds that the statute does not provide an explicit exception to protect the health of the minor and that the exception the statue provides for the imminent death of the mother is too narrow.
"Parental notification and parental involvement in a young woman's pregnancy is essential," added Aden. "A young woman should not have to carry the weight of her situation on her shoulders alone. Isolation from family will only worsen her already challenging situation."
ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.