No Conclusion on Abortion

The U.S. Supreme Court punted today on the issue of abortion. The Court was considering the constitutionality of a New Hampshire law requiring parental ...
by | January 18, 2006

The U.S. Supreme Court punted today on the issue of abortion. The Court was considering the constitutionality of a New Hampshire law requiring parental notification of abortions. The justices didn't like that a lower court ruled the entire law invalid, sending the case back for resolution of a narrower question about regulating abortion in cases of medical emergency.

I wrote an article for Governing's upcoming February issue about abortion politics, noting the anticipation with which the Court's decision in the New Hampshire case was awaited. Well, now that it's here, it's clear that the underlying politics of abortion aren't going to change, for the time being. "We do not revisit our abortion precedents today, but rather address a question of remedy," Sandra Day O'Connor wrote for the unanimous Court.

Instead, the longstanding strategy of opponents of abortion rights -- to keep imposing new restrictions, such as notification and counseling requirements -- will continue. Both sides had hoped, but didn't necessarily expect, that the New Hampshire case would provide guidance about the important question of whether state laws necessarily must offer exemptions for the woman's health.

Such clarity now will have to wait for a new case, to be addressed by new members of the Court.

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