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Judge Tells Ga. Not to Enforce Abortion Law

September 08, 1987|Associated Press

ATLANTA — A federal judge today enjoined the state of Georgia from enforcing a new law requiring minors to notify their parents before having an abortion, ruling that two key provisions of the law are unconstitutional.

But U.S. District Judge Robert H. Hall left the door open for Georgia officials to amend those two provisions and he stayed further proceedings in the case until the U.S. Supreme Court rules in a similar case from Illinois.

Hall ruled that one portion of the Georgia law, which requires a parent or an adult to accompany a woman 17 or younger to an abortion clinic to verify parental consent, is unconstitutional because it "unduly burdens the minor's rights."

He said the Georgia General Assembly can solve that problem by amending the law to allow verification by telephone or mail, as allowed in other states.

Anonymity Right Cited

He also found an unconstitutional violation of a juvenile's right to anonymity. The law allows a judge to approve a minor's abortion as an alternative to parental notification in some cases, but Hall noted that Georgia Supreme Court rules do not provide for the sealing of juvenile court documents.

The judge said this omission in the rules was "probably inadvertent and can be easily remedied" by the state court.

The Georgia law, passed during the 1987 General Assembly session, was challenged in court by Planned Parenthood organizations from Atlanta and Augusta. It was to go into effect July 1, but Hall granted a temporary restraining order delaying its enforcement.

State Sen. Joseph Kennedy, one of the authors of the law, said he had not seen the ruling but was certain that the Legislature would be willing to make the changes suggested by Hall.

Undue Burdens Argued

The Planned Parenthood suit argued that the law would restrict a woman's right to privacy and due process by placing undue burdens on teen-agers seeking abortions.

At a hearing in July, the director of an Atlanta abortion clinic testified that the law would cause delays, increasing the health risks and the costs of an abortion for younger women.

Proponents of the law argued that it would bring families closer together at a critical time in a young woman's life.

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