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Supreme Court to Study Abortion Rights of the Young

October 14, 1986

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will study whether states may require some adolescent girls seeking abortions to wait 24 hours after telling their parents or a judge about their decision.

The justices voted to review rulings that struck down a 1983 Illinois law that would impose the 24-hour waiting period.

The vitality of the court’s 1973 decision legalizing abortion does not appear at stake. But the Illinois case is the first in which the abortion issue is being considered by the court with William H. Rehnquist as chief justice and Antonin Scalia as a justice.

A decision is expected by July.

In other matters Tuesday, the court:

-Agreed to decide whether prosecutors may use as trial evidence material seized without a search warrant from an apartment house garbage bin. California courts said unwarranted police searches of garbage violates privacy rights.

-Refused to reinstate an Oklahoma law that makes it a crime for consenting adults to engage in heterosexual sodomy. Just last June, the court upheld Georgia’s outlawing of adult consensual sodomy among homosexuals.

-Said it will use a Maryland case to decide whether the impact on a murder victim’s family may be taken into account when sentencing the killer to either death or life in prison.

-Refused to revive South Dakota Gov. William Janklow’s libel lawsuit against Newsweek magazine over a 1983 article about the prosecution of Indian activist Dennis Banks.

-Agreed to decide in a New Jersey case how far prison officials must go in trying to accommodate the religious beliefs and practices of Muslim inmates.

-Ruled that retired federal workers have no legal right to challenge a portion of the Gramm-Rudman law, which calls for a balanced budget by 1991, even though the law deprived some 3 million civil service pensioners of a cost-of-living increase.

In the abortion case, the Illinois law required that unmarried girls under 18 and still dependent on their parents notify the parents 24 hours before they abort their pregnancy.

The notification requirement may be waived altogether if the girl proves to a state judge she is mature enough and well-informed enough to make the decision on her own and that notifying her parents would not be in her best interest.

In 1981, the Supreme Court allowed states to impose parental-notification requirements for ″immature″ girls under 18 who still are dependent on their parents. But in 1983 the court struck down an abortion law’s 24-hour waiting period that was applied to minors and adults alike.

Doctors who perform abortions challenged the 1983 Illinois law, seeking to have it declared unconstitutional.

A federal trial judge struck down the entire law, but the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did not go quite that far.

The appeals court ruled that the 24-hour waiting period was an impermissible infringement on the right to have an abortion. But it left to the state Supreme Court the issue of whether the 1983 law sufficiently provided for confidentiality and anonymity.

In seeking help from the nation’s highest court, Illinois officials said the waiting period was ″designed to provide an opportunity for meaningful consultation.″

They said Arizona, Idaho, Minnesota and West Virginia laws require similar waiting periods between parental notificaion and abortions.

The court last June reaffirmed its landmark decision legalizing abortion as it struck down, by a 5-4 vote, various abortion regulations imposed by Pennsylvania.

Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, who announced his retirement six days after that decision, voted with the minority to uphold the state regulations.

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