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During Time of Heated Judicial Rhetoric, Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood to Be Heard by High Court

WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. Supreme Court agreed today to hear a case that challenges access to abortion. The law was ruled unconstitutional by the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals because it contained no health exception in the event of a medical emergency.

"We are surprised and disappointed the Supreme Court has decided to hear this case," said Planned Parenthood Federation of America Interim President Karen Pearl, "Yet we are confident that this court will reaffirm a woman's right to abortion access. States should never put women's health at risk."

The Supreme Court decision to take this case shines additional light on the debate over judicial nominees currently unfolding in the Senate. A recent move by the Senate Republican leadership will attempt to change long-standing voting rules on judicial nominations.

"Who sits on the court when this case is decided is critical," said Pearl. "A case like this underscores how vital the Supreme Court is to protecting women's rights. Without it, extremists in states like New Hampshire would feel free to continue passing dangerous laws that impede the health and safety of young people and women's constitutional rights."

The law in question would have required health care providers to notify a parent at least 48 hours before providing an abortion to a woman under the age of 18, or for young women to obtain a court waiver of this requirement. The law contained no exception for circumstances in which the delay would seriously threaten a young woman's health. Instead the law would have forced physicians to wait to provide emergency medical care until the young woman was facing imminent death.

"The federal courts have long been a refuge for women facing discriminatory state laws," said Nancy Mosher, CEO, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. "We are confident that this Supreme Court will uphold its previous rulings that place the health of women above ideology."

The New Hampshire law would require parental notification before minors can terminate their pregnancies. It was struck down by the Boston-based First Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled the 2003 law unconstitutional for failing to provide an exception to protect the minor's health in the event of a medical emergency. This case comes at a time of extremely heated congressional debate over the judiciary and rampant speculation about Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist's retirement.


Planned Parenthood Federation of America


Daedre Levine (212) 261-4549


May 13, 2014