- The Washington Times - Monday, December 29, 2003

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A federal judge yesterday declared a New Hampshire law that would require parental notice before a minor could get an abortion to be unconstitutional.

The ruling came two days before the law was to have taken effect.

U.S. District Judge Joseph DiClerico said the law is unconstitutional because it lacks an exception to protect the minor’s health.

Attorney General Peter Heed had argued that the law gave judges enough leeway to grant exceptions, but Judge DiClerico was unconvinced.

“The attorney general has not explained how the judicial-bypass provision would address the need for an immediate abortion to protect the health of the mother, and the provision on its face is insufficient to meet such a need,” wrote Judge DiClerico, who was nominated to the New Hampshire-based court in 1992 by the first President Bush.

The New Hampshire law requires abortion providers to notify at least one parent at least 48 hours before performing an abortion on a minor. The parent would not have to approve the abortion. Alternatively, the girl could asked a judge for permission, which would have to be granted if the girl was mature enough or the abortion was in her best interest.

“We won,” said Martin Honigberg, one of several lawyers for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, which along with other opponents had sued to block the law.

Republican Gov. Craig Benson, a strong supporter of the law, had no immediate comment on the judge’s ruling.

Similar laws have been struck down in other states. This summer, the Florida Supreme Court struck down a version there, saying the law violated privacy rights guaranteed by the state constitution. A federal appeals court in Denver last year ruled that a similar Colorado law was unconstitutional because it provided no exceptions for health emergencies.


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