FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 22, 1998
BOULDER, CO — The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, along with the ACLU national office and Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, filed suit in Boulder District Court today to prevent the enforcement of Colorado’s Parental Notification Act (Amendment 12). If enforced, this law would require physicians, on pain of criminal and civil penalty, to notify a minor's parents and then wait 48 hours before proceeding with an abortion.
The suit, brought on behalf of health care providers throughout the state, claims that the law is unconstitutional and endangers the health and lives of young women. "Families are not perfect and it is not always safe for teens to tell their parents they are pregnant," said Sylvia M. Clark, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. "Forcing minors — without exception — to notify their parents may result in harm. Some teens will be beaten, some will be forced to carry to term and others will be kicked out of their homes. Others may run away, wait until the second trimester, travel to another state, try to self-abort, or attempt suicide."
The law makes no exception in cases of medical emergency, even when the young woman's health is in jeopardy. "By failing to provide an exception for medical emergencies, this law violates the constitution," said Mark Silverstein, Legal Director of the ACLU of Colorado. "The government cannot prevent doctors from providing emergency medical care that is necessary for young women whose health is at stake. Women should not be forced to gamble with their lives in this way."
"No court in the country has approved a law like this, nor should it," said Louise Melling, Associate Director for the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project. "With no health exception, no judicial bypass alternative, and a definition of abortion that limits access to contraception, Colorado's Parental Notification Act is out of synch with constitutional standards. It endangers the safety of minors in the state."
Plaintiffs in the case include Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, Inc., Boulder Valley Women's Health Center, Inc., Peter A. Vargas, M.D., James A. McGregor, M.D., Michael D. Rudnick, M.D., and Aris M. Sophocles, M.D. who are represented by Ed Ramey of Isaacson, Rosenbaum, Woods & Levy, PC, and Kevin Paul of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. Warren Hern, M.D. and Boulder Abortion Clinic, also plaintiffs in the action, are represented by Louise Melling and Jennifer Dalven of the ACLU and Mark Silverstein of the ACLU of Colorado.
View a Statement by Mark Silverstein, ACLU of Colorado