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Supreme Court hears parental notification abortion case

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] on Wednesday heard oral arguments [recorded audio, via C-SPAN] in Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England [Duke Law backgrounder; merit briefs] concerning whether the state of New Hampshire can require parental notification before a physician can perform an abortion on a minor. The two exceptions to the notification requirement of the New Hampshire Parental Notification Prior to Abortion Act [text] are cases where the procedure is necessary to prevent the death of the minor and where a judicial declaration has been made that the minor is mature enough to make the decision for herself. If found to be in violation of the law, a physician could face civil liability to the parents and criminal charges. During oral arguments Chief Justice John Roberts [JURIST news archive] appeared sympathetic to the state while Justices Sandra Day O'Connor, Anthony Kennedy, Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg [Oyez profiles] seemed concerned that the law's lack of an exception to protect the health of the minor may place physicians at risk in cases where severely sick minors did not want to notify their parents and were unable to obtain a judicial bypass. AP has more.

The Court also heard arguments for the third time Wednesday in Schiedler v. NOW [Duke Law backgrounder; merit briefs], regarding the applicability of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) [text] and the Hobbs Act [text] to anti-abortion protesters. While Justice John Paul Stevens [Oyez profile] seemed open to the possibility that the Court, in its 2003 rejection of the applicability of the laws and reversal of the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, had "overlooked" jury findings to the contrary, Justices Antonin Scalia and David Souter [Oyez profiles] questioned why the appeals court had not ended the case with the Supreme Court's previous decision [PDF text]. AP has more.

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