CONCORD, N.H. – A high school counselor who lost her job after helping a 15-year-old student secretly abort her unborn child without telling her parents should be reinstated at her job, the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.
In November 2012, a 15-year-old Farmington High School student—referred to as “Student A” in court documents—approached Demetria McKaig, who was a school counselor at the time. The student, along with her boyfriend, explained that she was pregnant and wanted to abort her unborn child without telling her parents, saying they were “afraid for their safety” should the girl’s parents find out.
McKaig and another school counselor met with the school principal to discuss the situation. The principal said the student should inform her parents about the pregnancy, in accordance with New Hampshire’s Parental Notification Law, which requires pregnant girls under 18 years old to inform their parents before obtaining abortions.
McKraig disagreed, arguing, according to court records, “that Student A had a right to keep the pregnancy confidential.” She then contacted a spokesperson at the ACLU, who described a way to bypass the state’s Parental Notification Law. McKraig passed along this information the pregnant student.
To ensure that the girl’s parents were not informed of the pregnancy, the ACLU jumped into action, filing a petition for a temporary restraining order that prevented the school principal from contacting the student’s parents. The principal complied, and, on December 10, 2012, the student obtained a “judicial bypass order” from the state supreme court that allowed her to kill her baby without telling her parents.
Four months later, the superintendent informed McKaig that she had lost her job at the school, due to the “insubordination, breach of student confidentiality, and neglect of duties” stemming from the incident with Student A. However, McKaig appealed this decision in court, and, last week, after three years of legal proceedings, the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled in McKaig’s favor.
“We … order that McKaig be reinstated to her former employment,” the court declared in its final opinion, published Thursday. In its 4-1 decision, the court ruled that McKaig’s actions were justifiable and that she was therefore not deserving of job termination.
The lone dissenter in the case, Justice Robert J. Lynn, disagreed, saying, “I cannot join the bandwagon of political correctness that provides the only justification for the majority’s decision.”
“Whether the legislature should have created a privilege prohibiting school districts from disclosing to parents communications between a pregnant minor and school counselors concerning the pregnancy or possible termination of the pregnancy is a debatable point,” Lynn wrote in his dissent.
“What is not debatable is that the legislature did not do so; and neither the state board nor this court has the authority to decide this case as if the legislature had enacted such a privilege merely because the board or the majority of the court may believe that the legislature should have done so,” he added. “Yet that, unfortunately, is the upshot of the majority’s decision.”