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Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood

546 U.S. 320 (2006)

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Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood

United States Supreme Court

546 U.S. 320 (2006)

Facts

In 2003 New Hampshire (defendant) passed the Parental Notification Prior to Abortion Act (the act), which prohibited abortion providers from performing an abortion on a minor without first notifying the minor’s parent or guardian. The act included three exceptions to its general requirement. Notice was not required if (1) the abortion provider certified that an abortion was immediately necessary to prevent the minor’s death, (2) a parent or guardian certified that he already had received notice, or (3) a judge found that the minor was mature and able to give informed consent, or that it was in the minor’s best interest to receive an abortion without notifying her parent or guardian. Apart from the first exception, there was no exception in the act for performing an abortion without notification in the case of a medical emergency. An obstetrician and three reproductive health clinics (collectively, the abortion providers) (plaintiffs) challenged the act. The abortion providers argued that the act was unconstitutional on several grounds, including its failure to provide an exception in the case of medical emergencies. The district court held that the act was unconstitutional and permanently enjoined its enforcement. New Hampshire appealed, noting that the act contained a severability clause and arguing that, according to the New Hampshire legislature’s intent, the act should have been partially invalidated rather than entirely invalidated. The court of appeals affirmed the district court and did not attempt to determine the legislature’s intent regarding the statute’s invalidation. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to determine whether the act should have been invalidated in its entirety or only partially invalidated.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (O’Connor, J.)

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