sam's notes

notes on government, sports and popular culture

Thursday, December 01, 2005

....I'm trying to make sense of New Hampshire abortion case that was the Supreme Court heard yesterday. NPR broke it the story down pretty well, but I was still a bit confused. This N.Y.Times account waits until it's three-quarters through before breaking down the case's key issue:

"Of the 43 states that require parental involvement in a teenager's abortion decision, New Hampshire is one of only five not to include an explicit health exception in the text of the statute. All the laws do make exceptions for life-threatening emergencies."

So the New Hampshire law makes exceptions for the life of the mother, not the health of the mother. But is it not reasonable to assume that if your life is in danger, then your health is also in danger?

"As much musing as questioning," Justice Steven Breyer dug into the issue:

"All you're looking to is the state of mind of the physician. Now, the problem that I think we'd see with that is you'd be writing into the law the broadest definition of what that health exception means."

The truly ironic thing is, via the NPR report, is the hypothetical medical emergencies presented by ACLU attorney Jennifer Dalvern concerned the mother's future reproductive health.

The Bush administration argued there was "literally a one-in-a-thousand chance there's going to be an emergency," and the court should not invalidate a statute with 999 valid applications.

Guarino says:

"...Modern obstetrics has progressed to the point that it can manage the worrisome complications that women faces decades ago. How often do we truly hear that a woman had to have an abortion because her life was in danger, or her physical health was jeopardized in a major way? It does not occur very often, because these situations are managed medically."


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