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Appeals Court Upholds Ruling Against Abortion Notification Law

August 13, 1988

CINCINNATI (AP) _ An Ohio law restricting the rights of females under 18 to have abortions was declared unconstitutional by a federal appeals court days after a similar Minnesota law was upheld.

A three-judge 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel on Friday unanimously upheld a ruling by a U.S. district judge in Cleveland barring the state from enforcing the 1986 law.

It required that doctors performing abortions on unmarried women younger than 18 must notify the women’s parents.

On Monday, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis upheld a similar law in Minnesota. That law requires 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 cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 decision that a woman has a fundamental constitutional right to seek an abortion.

U.S. District Judge Ann Aldrich had found that portions of the Ohio law were either unconstitutionally vague or infringed on the constitutional rights of females 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 a young woman’s right of access to an abortion.

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

Lawyers for the state had argued that the law is constitutional and appealed to the 6th Circuit for permission 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 law.

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