(March 17) Two judges on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals obstinately insist on keeping parents in the dark about the health of their children. As a matter of law, they are surely wrong, but what’s worse is how wrong they are as a matter of decency and human ethics.

At issue is a provision in Indiana law that requires that parents usually be notified when their child seeks an abortion. The law does not require parents to consent, but only that parents be informed when a judge has granted a minor’s abortion request without said consent. Even then, the law lets judges bypass the notification requirement if the notification is not in the child’s “best interests.”

Despite Judge Michael Kanne’s well-argued dissent, judges David Hamilton and Ilana Rovner late last week kept in place a preliminary injunction blocking that particular provision of law. In this case of Planned Parenthood v. Box II, Hamilton and Rover applied an amorphous “balancing test” to determine whether the “burdens a law imposes on abortion access” outweigh the “benefits” secured by parental notice. They ruled that the burdens of parental notice outweigh the benefits.

Kanne argued instead that according to Supreme Court precedent, the court’s role isn’t to try some Solomonic balancing, but merely to determine if the law imposes a “substantial obstacle” against an abortion. He quite reasonably argued that if the minor can secure the abortion regardless of parental consent, and that even then, a judge can bypass the simple notification-without-consent rule, then any “obstacle” to the abortion is far less than “substantial.”

Let’s allow others (here and here) to explain why Kanne had the far more compelling legal argument. What is even more infuriating than the proto-sophistry of the two judges’ decision is the moral purblindness demonstrated by anyone objecting to parental notification (other than in extreme circumstances)….

[The full column is at this link.]


Tags: , , ,