SAN FRANCISCO — A judge today blocked California from enforcing a new law, scheduled to take effect this Friday, requiring unmarried women under 18 to get parental consent before obtaining an abortion.
Superior Court Judge Morton R. Colvin granted an injunction sought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of doctors and family planning groups, who contended that the law violated the pregnant girls' right to privacy.
The injunction would block enforcement of the law until a trial on its constitutionality.
Deputy Atty. Gen. Elizabeth Brandt said it is "very likely" the state will appeal the ruling. But she said no decision has been made on whether to seek an emergency writ in hopes of resolving the issue by New Year's Day.
She said a full trial on the constitutionality of the law could be more than a year away.
In a brief ruling, Colvin said he found a "reasonable likelihood" that the law would be found unconstitutional after a trial, and also said there would be "irreparable harm" unless enforcement of the law was blocked in the meantime.
The law, AB2274 by Assemblyman Robert C. Frazee (R-Carlsbad), sponsored by anti-abortion groups, requires an unmarried woman under 18 who wants an abortion to first get written consent from one parent.
As an alternative, she could seek approval from a judge on the grounds that she was mature enough to make the decision on her own or that an abortion was in her best interest.
It was partly modeled on laws in 12 other states, which have been challenged in court with varying results. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the federal constitutional right to an abortion can accommodate a properly drawn parental consent law, but challengers to the California law contend that it is barred by the explicit guarantee of privacy in the state Constitution.
The state reported 30,000 abortions by unmarried girls under 18 in 1981. The state Judicial Council estimates that 10,000 to 12,000 a year would seek court hearings, which would be confidential.
Political ramifications of the law have made judges apprehensive. Although the hearing is confidential, judges expressed concern that judges who approve the abortions could be potential targets for defeat during election years by right-to-life groups.