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Judge Stays Abortion Law

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A federal judge in Florida has ordered the state to stop its enforcement of a new state law requiring minors to obtain parental consent before having an abortion.

U.S. District Judge John H. Moore 2nd, in Jacksonville, issued a temporary restraining order on Oct. 6 blocking the law, six days after it went into effect.

The judge argued that the state law, "when measured against Supreme Court precedent ... falls woefully short of constitutional requirements" in the restrictions it placed on access to abortion for pregnant girls under age 18.

A Jacksonville women's center and three medical doctors had filed the suit challenging the law.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court divided 4 to 4 last December in a case involving a somewhat similar law in Illinois, the issue of parental consent has been hotly debated in the courts.

In August, two federal appellate courts issued conflicting rulings on similar state laws.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, by a 7-to-3 vote, upheld a Minnesota law requiring minors to notify both of their parents or to obtain special approval from a state judge before having an abortion.

But a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit struck down an Ohio statute requiring doctors to notify parents before performing abortions on unmarried minors. (See Education Week, Sept. 7, 1988.)

Judge Moore said his order would remain in effect until the state Supreme Court addressed certain unresolved issues raised in the abortion-law suit.

Challenging the Florida law were the Max Suter Women's Center for Reproductive Health in Jacksonville, and Drs. Jeffrey M. Stowe of Jacksonville, Ralph Bundy of Ormond Beach, and Randall Whitney of Daytona Beach.--k.g.

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