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Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood

Supreme Court of the United States

November 30, 2005, Argued ; January 18, 2006, Decided

No. 04-1144

Opinion

 [*323]  Justice O'Connor delivered the opinion of the Court.

We do not revisit our abortion precedents today, but rather address a question of remedy: If enforcing a statute that regulates access to abortion would be unconstitutional in medical emergencies, what is the appropriate judicial response? We hold that invalidating the statute entirely is not always necessary or justified, for lower courts may be able to render narrower declaratory and injunctive relief.

 [****6]  I

In 2003, ] New Hampshire enacted the Parental Notification Prior to Abortion Act. N. H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 132:24-132:28 (Supp. 2005). The Act prohibits physicians from performing an abortion on a pregnant minor (or a woman for whom a guardian or conservator has been appointed) until 48 hours after written notice of the pending abortion is delivered  [*324]  to her parent or guardian. § 132:25(I). Notice may be delivered  [***818]  personally or by certified mail. §§ 132:25(II), (III). Violations of the Act are subject to criminal and civil penalties. § 132:27.

] The Act allows for three circumstances in which a physician may perform an abortion without notifying the minor's parent. First, notice is not required if "[t]he attending abortion provider certifies in the pregnant minor's record that the abortion is necessary to prevent the minor's death and there is insufficient time to provide [**965]  the required notice." § 132:26(I)(a). Second, a person entitled to receive notice may certify that he or she has already been notified. § 132:26(I)(b). Finally, a minor may petition a judge to authorize her physician to perform an abortion without parental notification. The judge must so authorize if he or she [****7]  finds that the minor is mature and capable of giving informed consent, or that an abortion without notification is in the minor's best interests. § 132:26(II). These judicial bypass proceedings "shall be confidential and shall be given precedence over other pending matters so that the court may reach a decision promptly and without delay," and access to the courts "shall be afforded [to the] pregnant minor 24 hours a day, 7 days a week." §§ 132:26(II)(b), (c). The trial and appellate courts must each rule on bypass petitions within seven days. Ibid.

] The Act does not explicitly permit a physician to perform an abortion in a medical emergency without parental notification.

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546 U.S. 320 *; 126 S. Ct. 961 **; 163 L. Ed. 2d 812 ***; 2006 U.S. LEXIS 912 ****; 74 U.S.L.W. 4091; 19 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 67

KELLY A. AYOTTE, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF NEW HAMPSHIRE, Petitioner v. PLANNED PARENTHOOD OF NORTHERN NEW ENGLAND, et al.

Prior History:  [****1]  ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIRST CIRCUIT.

Planned Parenthood v. Heed, 390 F.3d 53, 2004 U.S. App. LEXIS 24479 (1st Cir. N.H., 2004)

Disposition: Vacated and remanded.

CORE TERMS

abortion, invalid, the Act, notification, courts, pregnant, bypass, emergencies, cases, legislative intent, enjoined, notice

Healthcare Law, Medical Treatment, Abortion, Minors, General Overview, Family Law, Parental Duties & Rights, Consent, Abortion, Constitutional Law, Case or Controversy, Constitutionality of Legislation, Constitutional Questions, Necessity of Determination, Civil Procedure, Remedies, Injunctions, Permanent Injunctions, Governments, Legislation, Severability, Separation of Powers