Should New Hampshire require parental notification of a minor's abortion?
By: 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.
Rep. Lenette Peterson (R-Merrimack) requested a 2014 bill related to parental notification, then chose to withdraw the request.
There were no 2013 bills to modify the state's parental notification statute.
In May 2012 then-Gov. John Lynch signed HB 1723, which made technical corrections to the new parental-notification law.
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. The first parental notification law was ultimately repealed by the Democratic majority in 2007.