New Hampshire legislature overrides veto of parental notification bill

New Hampshire became the 37th state to enact a parental notification law with regard to abortion on Wednesday when the Republican majority overrode the veto of Democrat Governor John Lynch.  The vote in the House of 266 to 102, and 17 to 7 in the Senate.

The legislation requires health care providers to 48 hours advance notice to parents of girls under 18 either in person or by certified mail.  Failure to do so would leave them subject to a misdemeanor charge.  The exceptions to the law include if a determination that the girls life is at risk, or if a delay would cause a "serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily organ."

In the course of debate, NH state Representative Brandon Giuda stated, "If you believe children need parents involved in monumental life decisions, support this bill."

The Boston Globe has the history of the debate in New Hampshire:

Four years ago, Lynch made New Hampshire the first state to repeal a law requiring parental notification for minors to get abortions. He said the unenforced law was unconstitutional because it failed to protect the safety of young women.

In 2003, New Hampshire passed a parental notification law that required abortion providers to notify at least one parent 48 hours or more before performing an abortion on a minor. Republicans dominated the House and Senate then as they do now, but the bill only passed the House by six votes and by one vote in the Senate.

Republican Gov. Craig Benson signed it into law, but it was never was enforced because Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and others filed suit.

It was the first law regulating abortions in New Hampshire since the Legislature -- under Benson's predecessor, Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, now a U.S. senator -- repealed three criminal abortion statutes dating to 1848.

A federal judge declared the parental notification law unconstitutional in late 2003 because it lacked a provision to forego notification in emergencies where the health of the mother was at stake. The new version does include this exception, though some argue it is too restrictive by requiring serious risk of "irreversible" impairment to proceed with an abortion without notifying parents.

The state appealed and the U.S. Supreme Court sent it back to the federal court in New Hampshire to determine if the law could be salvaged. U.S. District Judge Joseph DiClerico put the case on hold while the Legislature acted.

U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who was attorney general at the time, led the state's appeal.

The law's supporters tried unsuccessfully to amend it to grant some form of health exception in emergencies.

After Democrats won control in the 2006 election, they moved quickly to strip the law from the books in 2007.

In other words, elections matter...


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