The Center for Reproductive Rights submitted an amicus (or friend-of-the-court) brief in this case before the Supreme Court, as part of our efforts to preserve the ability of abortion providers and patients to challenge abortion restrictions before they take affect and cause harm to women.
Filing date: 11/17/2003
State: New Hampshire
Center Attorney(s): Sandy Cohen, Bebe J. Anderson
Summary: The case challenged a New Hampshire law that required doctors to notify a parent at least 48 hours before performing an abortion on a minor, and that contained no exception for abortions performed in a medical emergency. , Both the federal district court and Court of Appeals held the law unconstitutional. , New Hampshire appealed the case to the United States Supreme Court, arguing that the plaintiffs in the case could not challenge the law’s lack of a “medical emergency exception” until they were presented with a minor patient actually facing a medical emergency.
CRR’s amicus brief argued that the Court should follow its three decades of precedent establishing that abortion restrictions may be challenged prior to enforcement and before particular patients have been harmed by the laws.
On January 18, 2006, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in this case, upholding the plaintiffs’ ability to challenge the law’s constitutionality pre-enforcement, and affirming that the states may not enact abortion restrictions that fail to protect women’s health and safety. , However, the Court questioned whether plaintiffs were entitled to a remedy that blocked any enforcement of the challenged law given that it would threaten women’s health in only limited circumstances. , The Court listed several criteria for determining whether parts of the law could take effect or whether it would have to be completely blocked. , The Supreme Court remanded the case to the lower courts to apply these criteria, but the law was repealed by the New Hampshire legislature in 2007, before further action was taken.