By Terry Vanderheyden

WASHINGTON, November 28, 2005 ( – As the New Hampshire Attorney General gets ready to defend a challenge of the state’s parental notification law at the US Supreme Court, a recent poll has found almost 70% of Americans support the measure.

A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll conducted earlier this month found 69% of 1,006 adults questioned favored parental consent before a minor child’s abortion, with 28% of respondents opposed. The poll also found that 64% were in favor of spousal notification before abortion, while 34% opposed spousal notification. Although the majority of respondents opposed an all-out constitutional ban on abortion, more than three-fourths were in favor of tighter restrictions on abortion.

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England successfully challenged New Hampshire’s parental notification law in 2000, when a 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston ruled the law unconstitutional because it did not have an exception for the so-called “health” of the mother.

The Supreme Court upheld a similar challenge to the Minnesota parental notification law in 1990, although in 2000 the high court ruled the partial-birth abortion ban unconstitutional because it did not include an exception for the health of the mother. The exception for ‘health’ has proven to be a wide open door for abortion on demand at any stage of pregnancy, with the term ‘health’ being interpreted so broadly as to make it effectively meaningless.

New Hampshire officials argue in their appeal that it is not necessary for the notification law to have a specific health exception, as at least 34 other state abortion laws already cover this. In addition, the 2000 partial-birth abortion ruling does not necessarily require that all abortion laws include the mother’s health exception, they said.

The case will highlight the positions of new Court members, including Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, as well as, if confirmed, federal appeals Judge Samuel Alito. Based on past cases, it appears most likely that the current Court would split 4-4 on the case, with Alito, who would replace former Justice Sandra Day-O’Connor, if confirmed, casting the deciding vote. In 1990, Alito ruled in favor of a spousal notification law for Pennsylvania.

See related coverage:
  Abortion Notification Law in New Hampshire under Review by US Supreme Court