Editorial: Young women under attack

It is appalling and cruel that anti-democratic anti-abortion forces, including the Bush Justice Department, are attacking the rights of young women, often the victims of rape and incest.

On Nov. 30, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case involving a New Hampshire law that prevents doctors from performing an abortion for a young woman under the age of 18 until 48 hours after a parent has been notified. Contrary to 30 years of Supreme Court precedent, the law contains no medical emergency exception to protect a pregnant teenager’s health. Lower courts struck down the law because of this omission.

New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte appealed that decision, and now the Supreme Court will weigh in.

Under the New Hampshire law, women under 18 who may have been abused by one or both parents are forced to get their permission in order to obtain an abortion. By choosing to take this case to the Supreme Court, anti-abortion groups and New Hampshire officials are effectively putting judges into young women’s bedrooms and doctors’ offices, interfering with their most personal medical decisions.

Currently, 21 states require parental consent for young women under 18 to exercise the abortion option and 13 have parental notification on the drawing boards.

Are young women out of control? According to Planned Parenthood of New England, of the 550 abortions performed in their New Hampshire clinics in 2004, 52 of the patients were under 18. That does not sound like wild in the streets. And what do anti-abortion activists propose to control the behavior of young men? Or has immaculate conception replaced biology?

Young women do require protection, sometimes including state intervention, in instances of crime such as incest, or neglect and poverty. But the Bush administration and its anti-abortion control freaks would expose young women to more, not less, danger.

This case is one of a series of challenges to the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that will be decided by the Roberts Court. How the court rules could advance or set back the rights and dignity of women and all Americans.