Supreme Court Preview: Ayotte v Planned Parenthood
The Supreme Court tomorrow will hear arguments in a case involving a challenge to a New Hampshire parental notification law for women under the age of 18 seeking an abortion. The law makes it a crime for a doctor to perform an abortion on a minor without waiting 48 hours after a parent or legal guardian has been notified. The law is being challenged by Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, two clinics (the Concord Feminist Health Center and the Feminist Health Center for Portsmouth), and Dr. Wayne Goldner because it does not include an exception to preserve the health of a young woman under 18. The law does include a judicial bypass option, but no exception for medical emergencies that can’t wait for a judge’s ruling.
Women’s health and rights advocates are also concerned that both the state of New Hampshire and the United States Solicitor General (representing the Bush Administration) are asking the Supreme Court to apply a new legal standard in this case, Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood. They are arguing that no lawsuits should be able to be filed to block enforcement of a new law; rather, the courts should refuse to hear so-called “hypothetical” cases and should wait until an actual harm has been inflicted on an actual woman. “This is a radical argument with dangerous consequences for women's health,” said ACLU attorney Jennifer Dalven, who will be arguing the case before the Supreme Court on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and the clinics.
The Ayotte case will be heard tomorrow at 11 a.m., following the 10 a.m. arguments in Scheidler v. NOW and Operation Rescue v. NOW, related cases involving anti-abortion violence and access to women’s health care clinics. These will be the first abortion-related cases heard by Chief Justice John Roberts. The Feminist Majority Foundation authored a major clinic violence amicus brief in the NOW cases and signed on to a brief authored by Legal Momentum in the Ayotte case opposing the New Hampshire parental notification law.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .