Parental Notification - Issue Summary

Should New Hampshire require parental notification of a minor's abortion?

parental notificationBy: LFDA Editor

As of January 2012, after an override of then-Gov. John Lynch's veto, New Hampshire began requiring that at least one parent receive 48 hours’ notice before a minor receives an abortion.

The law allows for an exemption from notice if the girl’s life is in danger or an essential bodily function is at risk.

Arguments in favor of parental notification

HB 329, the bill that became New Hampshire's parental notification law, was filed by Republican state Rep. Kathy Souza (R-Manchester) in 2011.  The bill was designed “to further the important and compelling state interests of protecting minors against their own immaturity, fostering the family structure and preserving it as a viable social unit, and protecting the rights of parents to rear children who are members of their household.”

In supporting the parental notification law, then-House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt said: “This is not a debate about a social issue. One of the problems facing society today is the lack of parental involvement on many levels.

"Young girls who cannot so much as be given an aspirin by the school nurse without parental permission must have their parents involved in such a crucial medical procedure, especially when it involves the long term physical and mental health of their child.”

Before parental notification became law, Ellen Kolb of Cornerstone Policy Research said the Constitution gives parents the “liberty to rear their children without government interference (except) where absolutely necessary,” and said she believes the bill honors families and limited government.

Arguments against parental notification

Opponents of HB 329 argued that the law does nothing to protect the lives of young women or lower the number of unintended pregnancies. 

Pilar Olivo, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice NH said, “Notification mandates created delays and intimidating procedures when what young women need is health care and counseling from quality, licensed health care providers right here in new Hampshire. We oppose HB 329 because it puts the health and safety of young women at risk." (NARAL is the National Abortion Rights Action League.)

In addition, opposition for the bill came from physician and former Sen. James Squires: “The bill inserts government deeply into family matters.”

The NH Medical Society also said the bill conflicts with the patient-doctor relationship and with privacy rights.

2014 Legislation

Rep. Lenette Peterson (R-Merrimack) requested a 2014 bill related to parental notification, then chose to withdraw the request.

2013 Legislation

There were no 2013 bills to modify the state's parental notification statute.

2012 Legislation

In May 2012 then-Gov. John Lynch signed HB 1723, which made technical corrections to the new parental-notification law.

Previous Legislation
A GOP-led Legislature first passed a notification bill in 2003 with the support of then-Gov. Craig Benson, a fellow Republican. The law, which did not include an exception clause, was challenged in court. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled an exception for medical emergencies had to be included.

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Take Action

If you are interested in parental notification in NH and want to take action here are some choices:

  • If you are new to contacting your government, please visit our page on How to Take Action.

  • Contact one of the organizations listed in Learn More. These groups represent the pro or con positions of issues.

  • Contact a government official as follows:

1. Contact members of the New Hampshire House of Representatives or the New Hampshire Senate

2. Give your opinion to Governor Maggie Hassan

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Learn More/Take Action

How do you feel about parents being notified before a child can get an abortion?  Whatever your thoughts are, we urge you to make your voice heard. See the "Learn More/Take Action" section on this page for more information.

Issue Status

As of January 2012, parents must receive notification before a minor receives an abortion.  There are some medical exceptions.

Rep. Lenette Peterson (R-Merrimack) requested a 2014 bill related to parental notification, then withdrew the request before the start of the legislative session.

News

February 5, 2014
Nashua Telegraph: NH House committee debates protections for unborn children
June 28, 2012
Nashua Telegraph: Legislature bans late-term abortions, approves 'early offer' medical malpractice program
June 19, 2012
Concord Monitor: Fetal homicide bill rejected by Lynch
June 1, 2012
Union Leader: Contraception exemption not part of state mandate
May 31, 2012
NHPR: How North Country reps voted on fetal homicide bill
May 25, 2012
WMNUR: Senate will negotiate with House on contraception bill
May 21, 2012
Concord Monitor: NH Senate acting on abortion, other bills
May 18, 2012
Nashua Telegraph: Senate backs including fetus death in homicide law
WMUR: Senate, House at odds over fetal homicide bills
WMUR: House rejects 2nd attempt at late-term abortion ban
May 15, 2012
Foster's Daily Democrat: NH House considers abortion amendment that Senate rejected
May 7, 2012
Foster's Daily Democrat: NH bill makes causing death of fetus a homicide
May 4, 2012
Union Leader: Senate committee opposes rejecting Planned Parenthood grant
April 30, 2012
Concord Monitor: NH bill makes causing death of fetus a homicide
Concord Monitor: Bill gives judges more time in NH abortion cases
April 26, 2012
NHPR: Senate and House divisions crystallize over abortion bills
WMUR: Senate blocks House-backed abortion bills
Concord Monitor: House holds Senate bills as a 'price' on abortion measures
April 24, 2012
Concord Monitor: Senate to take up several abortion bills, amendments
April 21, 2012
Concord Monitor: Suit alleges Planned Parenthood illegally doles drugs
April 20, 2012
Nashua Telegraph: Senate panel endorses forcing Planned Parenthood out of performing abortions
April 18, 2012
Concord Monitor: Senate committee sends birth control bill to study
April 6, 2012
Union Leader: Abortion funding bill affects 24 hospitals
April 5, 2012
Foster's Daily Democrat: NH bill bars funding hospitals offering abortions