Planned Parenthood and ACLU Hail Appeals Court Decision Striking Down Idaho's Extreme Parental Consent Law

Affiliate: ACLU of Washington
July 16, 2004 12:00 am

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SEATTLE – Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union today hailed an appeals court decision striking down Idaho’s parental consent law because it prevented teens with emergency medical conditions from getting the abortions they need to protect their health.

“The court recognized this law for what it is — an extremely restrictive parental involvement law that would have obstructed teens’ access to emergency abortions,” said Jack Van Valkenburgh, Executive Director of the ACLU of Idaho.

The law in question prevented teens under 18 from having an abortion unless they got the written consent of a parent or permission from a judge. Unlike the laws of more than two-dozen states, Idaho’s exception for medical emergencies was so narrow that it would have prevented very sick young women from getting the emergency care they need.

In today’s ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit concluded that the law was unconstitutional because it would “interfere with a woman’s choice to undergo an abortion procedure if continuing her pregnancy would constitute a threat to her health.”

“Today’s decision recognizes previous court findings, including those of the United States Supreme Court, that women have a fundamental right to an abortion to protect their health,” said Helene Krasnoff, an attorney with Planned Parenthood Federation of America, who argued the case.

In December 2001, a federal district court in Idaho struck down many sections of the law, but failed to strike down the entire law. Both sides appealed that decision. Planned Parenthood and the ACLU urged the court to uphold the lower court’s decision blocking sections of the law and argued for the court to strike what remained of this extreme and unconstitutional measure.

“We are delighted with the court’s decision to protect the health and lives of young women in Idaho,” said Rebecca Poedy, President of Planned Parenthood of Idaho. “This dangerous law would have prevented teens with serious medical conditions from getting the abortions they need.”

Other laws mandating parental notice before a minor’s abortion have been struck down in Colorado by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit and in New Hampshire by the United States Federal District Court because they lacked a health exception.

Today’s case is Planned Parenthood v. Lance, Case Nos. 02-35700 and 02-35714. Lawyers on the brief include Krasnoff, Roger Evans, and Dara Klassel of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Jennifer Dalven and Louise Melling of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, and Newal Squyres and Mary York for the ACLU of Idaho Foundation.

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