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Jan. 20, 2006
Yesterday's ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, in the case of Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, ducked the issues and punted the case back to the lower courts, resolving nothing.

Chief Justice John Roberts, recognizing the lack of a majority on either side of the abortion issue, recommended a narrow and unanimous decision and assigned Justice Sandra Day O'Connor to write it. Clarke Forsythe, attorney and director of the Project in Law and Bioethics at Americans United for Life in Chicago, in an opinion editorial for National Review Online (1/19/06) entitled "Sandra D's Swan Song," said the ruling "does little to clarify the numerous confusions surrounding this law.

The law in question is New Hampshire's Parental Notification Prior to Abortion Act. The U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston had initially ruled the law unconstitutional. The Supreme Court, without dissent, ducked the issues and punted the case back to the lower courts, thus resolving nothing, according to our legal advisors.

Mr. Forsythe's analysis points out that the Court did say that the lower court went too far in striking down the parental consent law when it could be constitutionally enforced in almost all circumstances. "The decision throws out the overreaching decision of the federal appeals court and sends it back for reconsideration. . . ." "The unanimous decision also said that the states 'unquestionably have the right to require parental involvement when a minor considers terminating her pregnancy.'" But, Forsythe said, the Court agreed that "a State may not restrict access to abortions that are 'necessary' in appropriate medical judgment, for preservation of the life or health of the mother."

In the Ayotte decision, the Supreme Court invited lower courts to create health exceptions to abortion laws, particularly parental consent statutes. There is a very real expectation that the lower courts will now act even more like legislatures. All nine Justices, none of whom have any medical training, perpetuated the abortionists' myth that there are non-life-threatening health reasons for abortions in minors. Of course the Justices do not state what those health reasons are, because they do not exist. All the health considerations in connection with an abortion in a minor weigh against the abortion, not in favor of it. These health reasons against an abortion, which were submitted to the Court in amici briefs, include reducing the risk of breast cancer and future premature birth, not to mention avoiding depression and even suicide. The unspecified health reasons for an abortion could be exploited once again by the abortion industry to permit an abortionist to perform the operation whenever and on whomever he chooses.

Mr. Forsythe's column says how ironic it is that Justice O'Connor wrote the opinion, since "she is the author of the mess that the Supreme Court has caused since 1992 (Planned Parenthood v. Casey) in its abortion decisions, sparking an increasing number of opinions by lower court judges expressing a great deal of frustration with the Court's confusing decisions, and asking the Court to clean up the mess." He concludes that "lower federal courts will continue to be confused and frustrated, and the Court leaves its growing mess to be cleared up in the future. All the while, the status quo serves the interests of abortion clinics and their advocates by keeping state legislative regulations like parental notice and informed consent bottled up in courts for years.

With Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissenting, the U.S. Supreme Court, on January 17, ruled in the case of Gonzales v. State of Oregon, that the U.S. Attorney General lacked authority to ban controlled substances from being used to assist the commission of suicide in Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the chilling opinion for the majority.

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