Supreme Court Declines to Review Ruling Against Idaho Abortion Law

The U.S. Supreme Court announced on Monday that it will not hear an appeal to a lower court’s ruling against Idaho’s abortion parental notification law.

The law, passed in 2000, requires women under the age of 18 to obtain parental consent or a judicial waiver before receiving an abortion. The law allows exceptions only in cases of extreme medical emergency.

Planned Parenthood challenged the law, saying that the definition of medical emergency was too stringent. In July 2004, San Francisco’s 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the law was unconstitutional.

Idaho State Attorney General Lawrence Wasden filed an appeal to the Supreme Court, which was rejected yesterday. The Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case upholds the lower court’s decision.

A new bill has been proposed in the state Legislature that would reinstate the parental consent law. Sponsored by Representative Bill Sali (R-Kuna), the bill has been approved by the House and a Senate Committee. The bill awaits approval by the full Senate and is expected to be signed by Governor Dirk Kempthorne.

Sali said that although the language of the bill has been revised, he expects legal challenges to arise again. Planned Parenthood has already announced that they will file another lawsuit if the new law is passed.

Executive Director of Idaho’s Planned Parenthood, Rebecca Poedy, commented to the Associated Press that the new bill contains the same problems of constitutionality as the previous law, and will most certainly face another battle in the courts.

“If they would take the million dollars they'll spend in court defending the law and put it into family planning, that would reduce the incidence of abortion," Poedy said.

Idaho was one of 44 states that have a parental notification law for minors who seek an abortion. However, until the issue is resolved in the legislature and the courts, there is no law in effect requiring minors to obtain parental consent in the state.