NH owes Planned Parenthood money

CONCORD – The state of New Hampshire must reimburse Planned Parenthood of New England for a lawsuit, in which the group challenged the state’s 2003 parental notification law, a federal judge has ruled.

The law would have required health-care providers to notify a parent at least 48 hours before performing an abortion on a minor. It never officially took effect because of Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit, and Gov. John Lynch and the state Legislature repealed it last year, making the legal action moot.

Earlier this week, however, U.S. District Court Judge Joseph DeClerico ruled that Planned Parenthood had effectively won the suit and deserved to have “a reasonable award of legal fees and costs.”

DiClerico urged lawyers for both sides to try to reach an agreement on the fees and costs, but said Planned Parenthood can file a claim with the court by Oct. 1 if the parties aren’t able to settle the matter.

The state was never able to enforce the parental notification law, because of the lawsuit. The case reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in 2006 that states can enact such notification laws only if they include exceptions to account for medical emergencies, in which a minor mother’s life might be at risk.

Attorney General Kelly Ayotte continued to pursue the case, urging the courts to strike down only part of the law, and let the rest of it stand, but the case was rendered moot when Lynch and the state Legislature repealed the law completely last year.