SAN FRANCISCO — The state Supreme Court refused today to allow immediate enforcement of a new California law requiring consent of parents or a judge for an abortion by an unmarried woman under 18.
The court's unanimous action apparently means the law, blocked from taking effect Jan. 1 by a Superior Court judge's order, will remain unenforced this year while its constitutionality is being challenged.
Major doctors' organizations and family-planning groups contend that the law violates the right to privacy under the state Constitution by restricting minors' ability to decide on their own whether to give birth or get an abortion.
The law, AB2274 by Assemblyman Robert C. Frazee (R-Carlsbad) and sponsored by anti-abortion groups, would make it a crime for a doctor to perform an abortion on an unmarried minor living at home who did not have written consent from one parent.
As an alternative to parental consent, the minor could get a ruling from a judge, after a confidential hearing, that the abortion was in her best interest or that she was mature enough to make the decision on her own.
State officials say about 34,000 women under 18 had abortions in 1985, the latest figures available. Under the old law, which remains in effect, a woman of any age can consent to an abortion as long as her doctor concludes that she understands the procedure and is consenting voluntarily.
San Francisco Superior Court Judge Morton R. Colvin issued a preliminary injunction Dec. 28 prohibiting enforcement of the new law until a trial could be held on its constitutionality. He said the law would cause irreparable harm if enforced in the meantime, and found a reasonable likelihood that it would ultimately be ruled invalid.
The state's 1st District Court of Appeal let Colvin's order stand. Atty. Gen. John K. Van de Kamp, the lead defendant in the suit as the state's top law enforcement officer, then appealed to the state Supreme Court, asking the court to take over the case and to allow enforcement of the law while the suit is pending.
But the high court's action today bars enforcement of the law while the issue of constitutionality is thrashed out in a full trial before Colvin.