Ayotte Case Could Jeopardize Women's Health and Safety
Decision in Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England Could Fundamentally Change Legal Landscape for Reproductive Rights
WASHINGTON — In response to briefs filed late yesterday in the U.S. Supreme Court by the New Hampshire attorney general, the United States, and others supporting a state abortion restriction, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) warned that the decision in the case Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England could fundamentally change the legal landscape for reproductive rights and put women's health at risk.
"For years, courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have consistently held that abortion restrictions must include exceptions to protect women who need emergency medical care," said Jennifer Dalven, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. "A decision in this case could unravel that protection, endangering women who need abortions to safeguard their health."
The United States, in its brief, argues against the need for such an exception.
"At Planned Parenthood, the health and safety of our patients are our top priorities. Even one woman harmed by this law is one woman too many when her health and safety are at risk," said Dara Klassel, PPFA director of legal affairs.
Under consideration in the case is a 2003 New Hampshire abortion restriction that targets young women and does not include a health exception. Following Supreme Court precedent, two federal courts held the law unconstitutional because it lacked the required health exception.
The plaintiffs in the case are Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, the Concord Feminist Health Center, the Feminist Health Center of Portsmouth, and Wayne Goldner, M.D.
The case is Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, No. 04-1144. Lawyers on the case include Dalven and Corinne Schiff of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project; Klassel of PPFA; Martin P. Honigberg of Sulloway & Hollis, PLLC; and Lawrence Vogelman, of Nixon Raiche Manning Vogelman & Leach, PA, and legal director of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union.
The ACLU and PPFA will file their brief on October 12, 2005.