INTERNATIONAL

Abortion case hearing

Washington: The U.S. Supreme Court began hearing its first major abortion case in five years on Wednesday in what is being billed as a major test of the court's inclination under its new Chief Justice on the most contentious social issue in the country. The case revolves around an attempt by the State of New Hampshire to introduce a law that would bar doctors from performing an abortion on a girl younger than 18 unless one of her parents has been notified, even when the girl's case is a health emergency. Though it does not challenge the 1973 Roe vs Wade Supreme Court ruling that legalised abortion, the outcome is likely to signal where the court is heading under Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative who has yet to give his views on how States should be able to limit abortion. The abortion case also comes in the midst of the political battle over the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito, picked by President George Bush to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who in the past had been the swing vote in support of abortion rights.

- Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005