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Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood (2006)

In Brief

Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood (2006): Court refuses to strike down parental notice law on its face where only a few applications of the law present a constitutional problem

The New Hampshire legislature passed a law prohibiting doctors from performing an abortion on a minor girl until 48 hours after written notice to her parent or guardian. The law included a judicial bypass provision (allowing the minor to seek a court order permitting the abortion without her parent's knowledge) and an exception where an emergency abortion is needed to prevent the minor's death.

Before the law took effect, three abortion clinics and an abortion doctor filed suit seeking to overturn the law on the grounds that in a small percentage of cases a minor's health would be threatened without a "prompt abortion." New Hampshire asserted that the judicial bypass provision would allow for a prompt abortion in such cases.

The Supreme Court ruled that striking down the law on its face was not necessary or justified since only a few applications of the law would present a constitutional problem. Instead, the Court sent the case back to the lower courts for a ruling prohibiting only the unconstitutional applications of the law. (After the case was sent back to the lower courts, the legislature of New Hampshire repealed the law.)



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