A federal appeals court reversed a lower court ruling and upheld the constitutionality of a Minnesota law requiring pregnant minors to obtain court approval for an abortion or notify their parents.
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued its ruling Monday on the 1981 law, supported by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life and other abortion opponents."We always felt the law was constitutional," a Citizens Concerned for Life spokesperson said.
A spokesman for Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, which challenged the law, said the group wanted to appeal to the Supreme Court. But Rachael Pine, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, said such a challenge may fail.
"On the one hand, we have a very powerful case here," she said. "On the other hand, we're a little worried about the current Supreme Court."
The law requires a pregnant minor to notify her parents of her desire to obtain an abortion or to seek judicial bypass. It requires the minor to notify both parents at least 48 hours before a planned abortion or demonstrate to a court that she was "mature and capable of giving informed consent" or that it would be in her "best interests" to obtain the abortion without notifying her parents.
U.S. District Judge Donald Alsop in Minnesota ruled the law unconstitutional in 1986, saying it unduly restricted the right of pregnant minors to obtain an abortion.
But the 8th Circuit panel reversed Alsop's decision, and directed the district court to enter judgment that the law is constitutional.
Judge John Gibson, writing for the majority in the decision, said the Supreme Court "has recognized as a matter of law that parental notice or consent requirements do not unconstitutionally burden a minor's abortion rights when an appropriate judicial bypass is in place."
The Supreme Court "has recognized that states have a significant interest in promoting parental involvement with a minor who is seeking an abortion," the 10-judge appeals court panel wrote.