Bench Memos

NRO’s home for judicial news and analysis.

Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood


The Supreme Court today, in a unanimous opinion written by Justice O’Connor, ruled that the First Circuit had erred in invalidating New Hampshire’s parental-notification statute in its entirety. The First Circuit had determined that the statute lacked an exception for those situations in which notification or judicial bypass would jeopardize a pregnant minor’s health. The Supreme Court made clear that it was not using the case to “revisit our abortion precedents” but that it was instead “address[ing] a question of remedy: If enforcing a statute that regulates access to abortion would be unconstitutional in medical emergencies, what is the appropriate judicial response?” The Court faulted the First Circuit for choosing “the most blunt remedy — permanently enjoining the enforcement” of the entire statute. It remanded the case to the First Circuit to explore whether narrower relief — such as enjoining enforcement of the statute only in the event of medical emergencies — would be proper.

What are the ramifications of this ruling? I’ll look forward to hearing from folks more knowledgeable than I am about the intricacies of abortion litigation.


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