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U.S. Supreme Court Hears Abortion Case on a Minor's Rights

In the first abortion case in five years, the Supreme Court considers a minor’s right to an abortion.
( [email protected] ) Nov 30, 2005 11:09 PM EST

In the first abortion case in five years, the Supreme Court considers a minor’s right to an abortion.

The court looked at Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England on Wed., a case that requires a doctor to notify a parent or a guardian of a minor within 48 hours before an abortion is performed, but beyond this, the case will show the direction of the high court under the new leadership of Chief Justice John Roberts.

The Justices will consider whether the 2003 New Hampshire law puts an "undue burden" on a minor choosing to end her pregnancy.

Opponents said that the law is flawed, and that it does not allow any leeway for the doctor to perform the abortion if the minor has a medical emergency.

However, Kelly Ayotte, the New Hampshire attorney general said that the doctor would be able to proceed with the abortion since the law would protect his medical judgment against prosecution, the Washington Post reported her as saying.

The Family Research Council and Focus on the Family argued that a "health exception," which is granted to adults seeking an abortion would have been granted to minors as well, which they filed in a "friend of the court."

They added that the "Court has often said" that minors are distinguished from adults because of "youth, immaturity, lack of life experience, financial and emotional dependence," making them unfit to decide on whether to go through with an abortion.

If the court upholds the New Hampshire law, it would affect the laws of states who already restrict abortions or have yet to implement such notifications, thus allowing other states to enforce similar statutes.