ACLU Applauds Decision Striking Down Colorado's Parental Notification for Abortion Act

Affiliate: ACLU of Colorado
April 17, 2002 12:00 am

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DENVER – Appreciating that young pregnant women facing a medical crisis must have immediate access to abortion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit today held unconstitutional Colorado’s law requiring parental notice for teens seeking abortions.

“”We are pleased that the court recognized that the Constitution does not permit the state to endanger the health of Colorado teens,”” said Jennifer Dalven, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union Reproductive Freedom Project and a lawyer on the case. “”The law would have put teens at grave risk, preventing them from getting critical health care even when they faced serious medical conditions such as kidney failure, seizures, and coma.””

The Colorado Parental Notification Act makes it a crime for a physician to perform an abortion for a minor unless the doctor notifies a parent and delays the abortion by at least 48 hours.

The court struck the law because it lacked an exception for situations in which an abortion is necessary to protect a teen’s health.

In its decision, the court held that the law impermissibly conflicted with nearly three decades of Supreme Court precedent requiring abortion regulations to contain an exception to preserve the health of the woman. The court noted that “”at no time during the period of pregnancy may the state regulate abortion in a manner that infringes on the ability of a pregnant woman to protect her health.””

“”We are relieved that the court understood the danger that this law poses for many young women in Colorado,”” said Ellen Brilliant, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. “”While parental involvement should always be encouraged, there are circumstances when this is simply not possible. The law should not endanger the health of those teens who cannot turn to their parents.””

The case is Planned Parenthood v. Owens, No. 00-1385. Attorneys on the case were Jennifer Dalven and Louise Melling of the National ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, and Mark Silverstein, Tim Atkeson, and Keri Howe for the ACLU of Colorado, representing Boulder Abortion Clinic P.C. and Warren M. Hern, M.D., and Edward T. Ramey, Blain D. Myhre, and Kevin C. Paul of Planned Parenthood, representing Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains Services Corporation, Women’s Choice of Boulder Valley, Peter A. Vargas, M.D., James A. McGregor, M.D., Michael D. Rudnick, M.D., and Aris M. Sophocles, M.D.

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