Update: NH buffer zone on hold

According to a report in Seacoast Online, New Hampshire Attorney General Joseph Foster has announced that the state’s new “buffer zone” law will not be enforced until further notice. The announcement was part of a formal filing in federal court, responding to the lawsuit by seven pro-lifers seeking to block enforcement of an anti-free-speech zone around abortion facilities.

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England issued its own statement late yesterday. announcing that it had no “present intentions” of posting buffer zone signs around its New Hampshire offices. “We continue to evaluate the Supreme Court ruling, as well as patient protection laws around the country, to ensure that women can continue to make their own health care decisions without judgment from strangers and abusive and physically threatening protesters and without fear of harassment or intimidation. No matter what agenda these protesters and outside legal groups might pursue, Planned Parenthood’s No. 1 priority remains the safety and privacy of our patients and staff.”

Foster, NH AG nominee, opposed parental notification law

Joseph Foster (courtesy McLane law firm web site)
Joseph Foster (courtesy McLane law firm web site)

Gov. Maggie Hassan has nominated Democratic former state senator Joseph Foster to be New Hampshire’s next attorney general. Foster was in the New Hampshire House from 1995 to 1998 and in the New Hampshire Senate from 2002 to 2008. While in the Senate in 2003, he voted against the parental notification law that was defended at the U.S. Supreme Court by then-AG Kelly Ayotte. The Court chose not to overturn the law, and instead remanded it to a lower court for reconsideration of one point.

Before that could be done, the legislature overturned it in 2007 with help from Foster, who was Senate Majority Leader at that time. He was quoted by the Associated Press as calling the law “unconstitutional,” although Justice O’Connor’s majority opinion had noted that there was no need to throw out the law.

A new parental notification law passed in 2011 over Gov. Lynch’s veto, after Foster had left office. If the Executive Council confirms Foster’s nomination to be attorney general, he would be responsible for the state’s legal response to any challenge to the existing law.