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Wednesday, November 30, 2005


NAF Communications Department

U.S. Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments That Could Jeopardize Women's Health

Washington, DC - The United States Supreme Court today heard oral arguments in Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, a case that has the potential to eliminate the requirement that abortion laws must include protections for women's health. As the first abortion case to be heard before the John Roberts-led court, Ayotte could take away the ability of women and their doctors to stop anti-abortion laws before they take effect, when doctors believe the laws would hurt their patient's health.

"The court today heard a persuasive argument about why women's health considerations must remain paramount," said Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of NAF. "Our side clearly explained why medical decisions need to continue to be made by women and their doctors, not by politicians trying to achieve a political agenda."

Stemming from a challenge to a New Hampshire law that prevents doctors from providing an abortion for a teenager under the age of 18 until 48 hours after a parent has been notified, the case has been joined by the Bush administration and asks that health considerations not be taken into account in such cases. These proposals would take the dangerous step of forbidding doctors from putting their patients' health first when a delay would create a risk of infertility, hemorrhaging, or organ damage.

"These standards that are supported by the Bush administration would take away a doctor's ability to prevent harm and would jeopardize women's health by preventing doctors from treating women in medical emergencies," said Saporta. "Doctors, not politicians or judges, should be making decisions about medical treatment for women."

If the arguments supported by the Bush administration were adopted, women would have to be harmed first before being able to challenge abortion laws. In a clear reversal of precedent, the administration argued that doctors and women should be significantly limited in their ability to challenge dangerous abortion restrictions. In this scenario, a patient would have to be in imminent danger before a judge could consider the case.

"If the Supreme Court accepts the Bush administration's arguments today, it would give a green light to other states to pass laws that deny women abortions in medical emergencies," said Saporta. "Two lower courts have already struck down this law, and after listening to today's arguments, the Supreme Court should follow suit."


NAF is the professional association of abortion providers in North America. NAF members care for more than half the women who choose abortion each year in the United States. They include clinics, doctors' offices, and hospitals, including premier teaching hospitals.

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