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Ayotte v Planned Parenthood
November 29, 2005 8:58 PM   Subscribe

Tomorrow, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood. At its core, the case is about the constitutionality of New Hampshire's abortion notification law. In reality, the two questions before the Court are a bit more complex. This may be one of the most significant abortion-related cases in years, and a ruling in favor of New Hampshire may put a serious dent in in the pro-choice movement. As a result, the Court has taken the rare step of allowing C-Span to air audio of the arguments soon after they conclude. (more inside)
posted by schoolgirl report (27 comments total)

 
The Boston Globe provides some additional background. New Hampshire’s left-leaning Concord Monitor offers the opinions of local young women and says “pregnancy should never be punishment,” while the right-leaning Union Leader wishes the AG well. (Full disclosure: a family member works for one of the plaintiff clinics.)
posted by schoolgirl report at 8:59 PM on November 29, 2005


oddly apt username.
posted by delmoi at 9:29 PM on November 29, 2005


On its face, this seems like an open and shut case because the nature of its question is similar to what was dealth with in Casey. Casey, facing similar provisions, set the undue burden standard. My guess is that this provisions will be found unconstitutional for the reasons stated by the First Circuit: that the death and health exceptions are too narrow and limited.

But still, this will be a close case because those aspects of the provision have not been heavily analyzed by the Court yet (unlike, say, having a judicial bypass mechanism for parental notification or spousal notification requirements). It will be interesting to see where Roberts comes down on this issue.

This is no Roe redux by a long shot though. The Court is hearing no cases this term that would bring up a full challenge to Roe. The constitutionality of abortion is not up for debate in this case, but the persistant whittling away of the scope of that right is.
posted by Falconetti at 10:17 PM on November 29, 2005


Frontline did an interesting bit on abortion recently. I found chapter 2, Chipping away at Row v. Wade, most appropriate to this topic.
posted by darkness at 10:37 PM on November 29, 2005


Nicely framed post, in my humble opinion; thanks.
posted by MarvinTheCat at 10:47 PM on November 29, 2005


An abortion kills the life of a baby after it has begun... Birth control merely postpones the beginning of life. ~ Planned Parenthood "Plan Your Children" pamphlet in 1963.
posted by bevets at 5:12 AM on November 30, 2005


wow, i didn't realize bevets had become so... multidisciplinary.
posted by rxrfrx at 5:25 AM on November 30, 2005


O_O -_- O_O
Bevets! Thought you'd died. Glad to have you back.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 5:41 AM on November 30, 2005


Well-framed newsfilter. Good job.
posted by klangklangston at 5:52 AM on November 30, 2005


What an interesting-sounding pamphlet, bevets. Could you scan it for us?
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:13 AM on November 30, 2005


I think the audio will be available here: http://www.cspan.org/watch/cspanradio.asp?Cat=TV&Code=CSR&ShowVidDays=30&ShowVidDesc=&ArchiveDays=30

I'm headed down to the Court right now -- I'll report back on the zoo I'm sure is assembling on the steps.
posted by footnote at 6:16 AM on November 30, 2005


Proper link. Sorry.
posted by footnote at 6:17 AM on November 30, 2005


... pamphlet in 1963.

Oh come on.
posted by odinsdream at 6:33 AM on November 30, 2005


I found chapter 2, Chipping away at Row v. Wade, most appropriate to this topic.

it's hard to believe that, you know, you read it - given the case was Roe v. Wade.
posted by quonsar at 7:23 AM on November 30, 2005


Yeah, Row v. Wade was Bush's Katrina evacuation plan.
posted by klangklangston at 7:37 AM on November 30, 2005


As someone who grew up in NH, I just want to point out that the Concord Monitor is only left-leaning in contrast to the other major paper in NH. The watergate-involved, Larouche backing Union Leader.

(I was about to type that I also have a relative involved when I realized the poster is my stepbrother. See you at xmas..)
posted by lumpenprole at 8:15 AM on November 30, 2005


Back from Court -- there were about 100 people plus a bunch of journalists milling around outside: the usual contingent of NARAL folks and people holding "My Abortion Hurt Me" signs, plus a row of pious young white anti-abortion teenagers with red tape across their mouths. Oh, and an anti-abortion folk music trio too.

Interestingly, the dead fetus picture people had set up camp off to the side, away from the media and the throng. I assume that this was a deliberate tactic by the organized anti-abortion forces, who prefer to have their earnest, fresh-faced young white kids in front of the camera, rather than the crazy-eyed dead fetus people.

On my part, I managed not to punch anyone, although I did ostentatiously step on a "Stop Abortion Now" sign as I passed the anti-abortion folk music trio. So much for self restraint.
posted by footnote at 9:13 AM on November 30, 2005


The outcome of this case is totally dependant on whether or not O'Connor is still on the Court when the decision is handed down. If she is, the law is struck down 5-4, if Alito is in her place by that time, the law is sustained 5-4.

The common wisdom, based on past voting patterns, seems to be:

- Four justices will automatically vote to strike down the law: Breyer, Souter, Stevens and Ginsburg.

- Three will automatically vote to uphold: Roberts, Scalia and Thomas.

This leaves Kennedy and O'Connor:

-O'Connor's the easier of the two to figure out. She has consistently voted, since Casey, to strike down laws that did not have a health exception. This includes her vote to strike down the "partial-birth abortion" ban in Stenberg.

-Kennedy is the big mystery. He has voted to uphold Roe in the past, most notably in Casey, but in Stenberg, he issued a pretty vitrolic dissent (which means that he voted to allow a ban on "partial birth" abortions, even when there was no exception for the health of the mother). He said that "the promise of Casey had been abandoned" by the Court, which means that he thinks that a health exception was not constitutionally necessary in protecting the right to an abortion. As a pro-choicer, this is not a vote I would rely on.

And, even though Alito talks a good game about repecting precedent - I don't buy it. In my opinion, if he is on the Court, he votes to uphold.
posted by thewittyname at 9:14 AM on November 30, 2005


It's on now. I wish I could tell which Justice is speaking. Ayotte sounds nervous, her voice is kind of wavering. She seems to claim that it would be okay for a doctor to perform an abortion without parental notification because of some "competing harms" defense or something, in the case of a severe health risk short of imminent death. However the Justices are saying the statute appears to say the opposite.
posted by beth at 9:17 AM on November 30, 2005


Now what I'm hearing suggests that written in the law it says basically "if part of this statute is ruled unconstitutional, the rest of it shall still be in force". There are terms I don't quite get like "as applied" and "severability" but I think the gist is that NH wants to say the court can rule that an emergency exception should be "injected" into the statute by the court, but the court is saying they don't do that. Or something. IANAL.
posted by beth at 9:39 AM on November 30, 2005


Yeah, Row v. Wade was Bush's Katrina evacuation plan.

Marry me.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:39 AM on November 30, 2005


beth - that's a very good summary for not being a lawyer!
posted by footnote at 9:55 AM on November 30, 2005


An abortion kills the life of a baby after it has begun... Birth control merely postpones the beginning of life. ~ Planned Parenthood "Plan Your Children" pamphlet in 1963.
posted by bevets at 5:12 AM PST on November 30


No self-link this time? Seeing as how you're the only member who is allowed to do it, I'm surprised you've managed to avoid it in this thread.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:20 AM on November 30, 2005


An abortion kills the life of a baby after it has begun... Birth control merely postpones the beginning of life. ~ Planned Parenthood "Plan Your Children" pamphlet in 1963.

I'm very interested in why bevets posts this in every abortion thread. I don't see how it's relevant in any way to the topic at hand. I really, really don't.
posted by agregoli at 10:49 AM on November 30, 2005


I don't think this is going to be as close as some people think. While the Court has indicated parental notification does not pose an undue burden on right to abortion, I think they've been pretty clear that lack of judicial bypass exception for health is a deal breaker.
Maybe I'm optimistic, but I actually believed Roberts in his confirmation hearings when he talked about the importance of stare decisis.
posted by Dr. Zira at 10:54 AM on November 30, 2005


Some discussion on this from today's 'Morning Edition'
posted by lumpenprole at 12:22 PM on November 30, 2005


Ah, ignore my earlier stupidity; there is a judicial bypass written into the law. They're probably going to remand then so they can rewrite the emergency procedures. Interesting, but no new law here.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:32 PM on November 30, 2005


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