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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia last week struck down the Bush Administration's ban on certain types of abortion counseling at federally funded family-planning clinics.

The rule affected 3,900 clinics serving some 4.5 million women, many of them teenagers.

The suit was brought by the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association. Abortion-rights activists have fought to repeal the rule since an earlier version was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in May 1991.

The appeals court ruled that the Administration violated notice and comment procedures in federal law when it modified the rule to allow doctors to counsel women about abortion. The procedures require the government to publish substantial changes to federal rules in the Federal Register and to grant the public a 30- to 90-day period for comments.

The Administration, the court said, "substantially amended and even repudiated'' part of its original abortion-counseling regulation.

As a result of the ruling, centers that counsel women about abortion will regain their eligibility for federal assistance.

President Bush last week vetoed a $27 billion tax-relief and urban-aid bill.

The President, who suggested many of the proposals contained in HR 11, said he vetoed the measure because it had been overwhelmed by riders that would have raised taxes and hurt small businesses.

The bill's sponsors said it would have provided education and social services to needy areas, expanded preventive child-care services, and helped states fund education and training for welfare recipients.

Congress sent the bill to Mr. Bush after it reached a compromise on the legislation in mid-October. (See Education Week, Oct. 14, 1992.)

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued new standards for school buses that require larger vehicles to have more exits.

The rules, which will take effect in May 1994, replace the current standard calling for all school buses to have the same number of emergency exits. They set a new minimum standard for emergency-exit space based on seating capacity.

The revisions were drafted largely in response to investigations of a fatal 1988 school-bus crash in Carrollton, Ky., in which passengers were trapped in a fire, and a fatal 1989 crash in Alton, Tex., in which passengers were trapped in a bus that had rolled into a water-filled pit.

The new rules, published in the Nov. 2 Federal Register, also set standards for the placement and identification of emergency exits as well as the use of latches on emergency doors. A separate set of rules would allow manufacturers of non-school buses to use the new standards.

Vol. 12, Issue 10

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