ACLU and Planned Parenthood Ask Court to Block Idaho's Third Attempt at Restricting Teenagers' Access to Abortion

June 15, 2005 12:00 am

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BOISE, ID — The American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood Federation of America argued in court today that Idaho’s third attempt at enforcing a dangerous measure restricting teenagers’ access to abortion should be enjoined.

“The safety of Idaho’s most vulnerable teens should be our first concern,” said Rebecca Poedy, President of Planned Parenthood of Idaho. “Putting politics before health care, the state persists in its efforts to enforce a law that would harm teenagers, especially those in need of emergency abortions.”

The law in question prevents teens under 18 from having an abortion unless they receive the written consent of a parent or a court waiver of that requirement. Although slightly modified from two earlier versions already struck down by the courts, the law at issue in today’s case suffers from two flaws previously declared unconstitutional: It compromises the confidentiality of teens who need emergency abortions, and of teens seeking waiver of the parental consent requirement.

“Three times is not the charm when it comes to Idaho’s attempts at restricting teens’ access to abortion,” said Louise Melling, Director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “We are confident the court will once again block a law that puts Idaho teens at risk.”

In March, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Idaho’s request to review a lower court’s ruling striking down an earlier version of the law because it endangered teenagers’ health. The legislature responded by enacting yet another law, one that incorporates provisions nearly identical to those previously declared unconstitutional. Planned Parenthood and the ACLU filed suit against the new measure in April.

“It is mind boggling that the state is indifferent to the fact that this law is unconstitutional and dangerous,” said Alan Herzfeld, cooperating counsel for the ACLU of Idaho. “The state cannot force teens seeking an abortion to obtain written consent from a parent without providing a confidential alternative to protect teens who can’t involve a parent in their decision. This law does not provide that protection.”

Today’s case is Planned Parenthood of Idaho v. Wasden, Case No. CV05-148-S-BLW. Lawyers on the case include Melling and Chakshu Patel of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, Helene Krasnoff and Roger Evans of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Herzfeld for the ACLU of Idaho Foundation.

The ACLU and Planned Parenthood brief in the case is available online at: /reproductiverights/abortion/12590lgl20050418.html.

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