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Court Upholds Va. Parent Notice Law

August 20, 1998

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ A federal appeals court on Thursday unanimously upheld Virginia’s year-old law requiring that parents be notified when girls under age 18 seek abortions.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the law does not violate the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision, which held that women have the right to have abortions.

The law ``respects the fundamental interests of responsible parents in the rearing and in the educational, moral and religious development of their children,″ Judge J. Michael Luttig wrote.

The law requires doctors to notify parents or guardians of girls 17 or younger who live at home before performing an abortion. It also says judges may waive the notification requirement for girls whom they determine to be mature enough to decide for themselves.

Opponents had argued that the law unconstitutionally and unfairly restricts girls’ access to abortions. The abortion rights group Planned Parenthood also said the judicial bypass provision is vague and gives judges too much discretion to exercise personal preferences.

The law took effect on July 1, 1997, a day after its opponents went to court to obtain an order blocking the law pending a court challenge of its constitutionality.

On June 30, 1997, U.S. District Judge James Turk issued an injunction blocking the law. Turk agreed with Planned Parenthood that there was a ``substantial likelihood that the (law) is unconstitutional.″ Hours later, Luttig stayed Turk’s injunction, and the law took effect on schedule.

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