Massachusetts abortion decision may be headed for US high court

For the second time in three years, a controversial Massachusetts antiabortion law seems headed for a US Supreme Court showdown. The justices, whose 1973 landmark decision upheld the right of women to have unwanted pregnancies terminated, soon may be asked to rule on the legality of follow-up restrictive measures pushed through by "pro-life" forces.

At issue are:

1. Can women seeking abortions be forced to wait 24 hours?

2. Must parental consent or approval of a judge be obtained before a minor can obtain an abortion?

These perennial questions were raised anew when a Feb. 9 federal court upheld the latter consent provision enacted last June.

At the same time, however, the three- judge panel struck down the similarly mandated one-day waiting period. Also found unconstitutional was a requirement that before a woman could have an abortion she would be required to read a state-provided detailed description of fetal development, which is intended to convince her to complete the pregnancy.

Both sides in the litigation -- the attorney general representing the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Planned Parenthood League representing freedom of choice interests -- have indicated they might appeal the portions of the ruling that went against them. Neither, however, has committed itself as to such a move.

The outcome could have broad impact across the nation.

At least five other states -- Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, and Tennessee, -- and the city of Akron, Ohio, have similar 24- hour or 48-hour waiting-period requirements. Most, however, have, at least temporarily, been blocked from going into affect.

Similar legislation is under consideration in several other states.

The current measure replaced a more restrictive statute struck down in July 1979 by the US Supreme Court.

Unlike the former law, the current challenged parental consent statute provides an alternative which allows a judge to authorize an abortion appro val.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
QR Code to Massachusetts abortion decision may be headed for US high court
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today