Litigation is essential to ensuring women's access to safe and legal abortion. NAF's public policy programs include litigation in the courts as well as submitting amicus briefs in cases affecting NAF members and the women they serve.
On January 18, 2006, the United States Supreme Court issued its ruling in Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. The New Hampshire law in question would require minors to notify their parents at least 48 hours before obtaining an abortion and does not include an exception in cases where the minor's health is at risk. The law potentially endangers teens who need an abortion in medical emergencies but are unable to notify their parents. In an opinion written by now retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the Supreme Court unanimously recognized and upheld its own precedent that abortion laws must protect women's health and well-being. The Supreme Court sent the case back to the lower court to determine if the state legislature would have passed the law with a health exception. If not, the Court agreed that the law should be struck down. This law should be struck down because it dangerously singles out abortion, forcing doctors to deny women emergency medical care.
Read NAF's amicus brief (PDF file, 1.3 MB).
Visit www.ayottevplannedparenthood.org for more information
Read the full text of the Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England decision
On November 30, 2005, the Court heard NOW v. Scheidler. In this case, the Court considered the use of federal racketeering laws to sue anti-abortion extremists. NOW v. Schiedler was originally filed in 1986. The issue on appeal was about whether certain conduct is sufficient to support an injunction.
On February 28, 2006, the Supreme Court issued a disappointing decision in NOW v. Scheidler. The Court narrowly read a federal law as not providing abortion providers with protection from extreme anti-choice protesters. When the NOW v. Scheidler lawsuit was initiated in 1986, there was no specific federal law that protected abortion providers from anti-choice violence and preserved patient access to abortion clinics. However, this ruling does not give anti-choice extremists the right to commit illegal or criminal activity outside clinic entrances. Congress passed the FACE Act in 1994 and made the use of "force, threat of force or physical obstruction" to prevent someone from providing or receiving reproductive health services a federal crime.
Read NAF's amicus brief (PDF file, 179K)
Read the full text of the NOW v. Scheidler decision
The National Abortion Federation supports advocacy efforts in various courts to preserve and expand access to abortion. Amicus, or friend of the court, briefs allow individuals and organizations with an interest in the outcome of litigation to explain their position on a case to a court. These briefs often provide different viewpoints or analyses from those the litigants present. More