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N.H. Gov. Vetoes Parental Notification Bill; N.C. Senate Approves Abortion Limits

N.H. Gov. Vetoes Parental Notification Bill; N.C. Senate Approves Abortion Limits

June 16, 2011 — New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch (D) on Wednesday vetoed a bill (HB 329) that would have reinstated a requirement that minors get written consent from at least one parent or guardian at least 48 hours before obtaining an abortion, the AP/Boston Globe reports.

The bill would have required abortion providers to notify a minor's parents or guardian in person or by certified mail. Violators could face a misdemeanor charge. The measure included exceptions for cases when the girl's life was at risk or if a delay would create "serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily organ" (Love, AP/Boston Globe, 6/15).

The bill was approved in May by the state House and Senate with enough support to override a governor's veto. A girl would need to convince a judge that she "is mature and capable of giving informed consent to the proposed abortion" if she did not wish to inform her parents. Senate lawmakers struck down an amendment to the bill that would have allowed an exemption if "notice to the parent or guardian may lead to physical or emotional abuse of the minor" (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/26).

In vetoing the bill, Lynch said he is "particularly troubled by the lack of an exception for the victims of rape, incest and abuse." He said, "The decision whether to complete a pregnancy or seek an abortion is a serious and life-changing one for any pregnant woman. Minors need and benefit from the support and guidance of their parents," adding, "However, any law must make reasonable allowances for cases where that is not possible."

He said a minor should not be forced to involve her abuser in her health care decisions. Lynch also said the health exception does not give doctors sufficient room to exercise their best medical judgment. The measure could put a girl's health at grave and immediate risk. Lynch said the law would not have provided doctors enough guidance on how to comply with the regulations, putting them at risk of imprisonment and civil lawsuits.

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England senior policy adviser Jennifer Frizzell said, "Gov. Lynch has recognized that young women should be able to turn to trusted medical professionals and not to the judicial system in order to fully explore pregnancy options and seek appropriate medical care without risk to their health and safety" (AP/Boston Globe, 6/15).

N.C. Senate Sends Ultrasound Bill to Gov.

The North Carolina Senate on Wednesday voted 29-20 to approve a bill (HB 854) that would require women to obtain an ultrasound and have mandatory counseling at least 24 hours prior to an abortion, the AP/Charlotte Observer reports. The measure now moves to Gov. Beverly Perdue (D) for consideration (Dalesio, AP/Charlotte Observer, 6/16).

The bill would require an abortion provider to describe the ultrasound image. Although the woman would not have to watch the ultrasound screen or listen to the description, she would have to sign a document acknowledging that the description was provided, and the document would have to be kept on file for at least seven years. Legislative budget analysts estimate that the new requirements would lead to about 2,900 additional births annually, half of which would be paid for by Medicaid or other public health insurance programs. The measure would cost taxpayers $6.7 million in the first year and $35 million over five years, the analysts said (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/20).

Chrissy Pearson, a spokesperson for Perdue, said the governor will "have to give it very, very serious thought before taking action. The governor supports choice. She's made that very clear." Pearson added, "I suspect it will be one of several social issues that will arrive on the governor's desk that illustrate the Republicans' more extreme agenda. We have found places that we have been able to work together, but there have been very few this session" (AP/Charlotte Observer, 6/16).