Associated Press

April 14, 1997

Court Rejects La. Abortion Law

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A stricter version of Louisiana's abortion law gave judges too much power to decide if underage girls can get an abortion without consent from their parents, a federal appeals court ruled Monday.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling struck down 1995 revisions to the law. The original 1983 law remains in effect.

Louisiana requires one parent's consent but allows a girl to get permission for an abortion without it if a judge feels she is mature enough to make the decision.

At issue before the appeals court was a fight over the wording.

The old law said the judge ``shall'' allow the abortion if he finds the child mature enough. The revision said the judge ``may'' allow it if the minor is too immature and the judge feels an abortion is still in the child's best interest.

Abortion providers, backed by lawyers for The Center For Reproductive Law and Policy in New York, sued the state over the change, which they said made it easier for a judge to alert parents.

The appeals court agreed, saying the state attempted to ``enter through the proverbial back door'' by making it more difficult for minors to get an abortion without parents' permission.

``Not all children come from families that will support their abortion choice,'' said Kathryn Kolbert, the attorney for the abortion providers.

A spokeswoman for Attorney General Richard Ieyoub said the office had not had time to review the decision.

Thirty-eight states have parental notification or consent provisions. Twenty-seven are enforcing them, while others are under appeal.