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Court Affirms Minors’ Abortion Right

Tue., Oct. 21, 1997

The U.S. Supreme Court voted Monday, over one justice’s dissent, to leave unchanged the constitutional right of minors to obtain abortions without notifying their parents.

If a minor is found to be mature enough to make the choice on her own and does not want her parents to know about it, a judge must allow an abortion under a series of Supreme Court rulings dating to 1979.

Those rulings also require a judge to allow an abortion even for a minor who cannot demonstrate that she is “mature,” so long as the judge concludes that ending the pregnancy would be in the minor’s “best interest,” no matter what her parents might wish.

In a new appeal, the state of Louisiana launched a challenge to all those decisions, urging the Supreme Court to wipe out minors’ abortion right altogether.

The appeal, in fact, asked the court to go even further, to reconsider whether any woman - adult or minor - should continue to have a right to end a pregnancy. The court had reaffirmed the basic right to abortion as recently as 1992 and has been unwilling to reopen the issue since then.

Only Justice Antonin Scalia, the court’s most vocal opponent of abortion rights, announced that he wanted to hear Louisiana’s challenge to the court’s abortion precedents. If any other justices favored a review of the case, they did not say so.


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