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Appeals Court Upholds Ruling Against Parental Notification Law

August 12, 1988

CINCINNATI (AP) _ An Ohio law that would require parental notification by doctors who intend to perform abortions on unmarried women under age 18 is unconstitutional, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.

A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld a previous ruling, by U.S. District Judge Ann Aldrich of Cleveland, that prevented the state from enforcing the 1986 law.

Earlier this week, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis upheld a similar law in Minnesota. The Minnesota law required minors seeking abortions to notify both parents or get judicial permission 48 hours before the procedure.

Linda Sogg, a Cleveland lawyer who argued against the Ohio law, praised Friday’s ruling.

″It is a victory for all the parents who have wonderful relationships with their children who don’t need laws to have communication,″ Ms. Sogg said. ″I also think it is a constitutional victory of some great importance for young women, for the privacy of their bodies, and for adult women and their bodies.″

Roger Evans, a lawyer with the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in New York City, also hailed the ruling.

″We’re glad that the court has upheld the rights of minor women to have constitutionally guaranteed services without imposing undue burdens,″ Evans said.

The appeals court noted the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 decision that a woman has a fundamental constitutional right to seek an abortion.

Ms. Aldrich found that portions of the Ohio law were either unconstitutionall y vague or infringed on the constitutional rights of women younger than 18. The judge objected to a specific requirement that the doctor must be the one to notify parents. She said this placed an unfair burden on the young woman’s right of access to an abortion.

The judge also ruled that the Ohio law fails to adequately protect the minor woman’s right to confidentiality. She concluded that the law unfairly requires a minor wo seeks court approval to have an abortion without parental notification to prove that she is sufficiently mature to make her own decision to have an abortion.

Lawyers for the state had argued that the law is constitutional and appealed to the 6th Circuit asking that the state be allowed to enforce it.

Rita Eppler, an assistant Ohio attorney general who argued the case for the state, declined to comment Friday on the appeals court’s ruling until she sees it. She refused to say if the state would appeal further.

The case began when the Akron Center for Reproductive Health, two minor women and Dr. Max Pierre Gaujean, who performs abortions at the Akron center, filed suit to block enforcement of the Ohio law.


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