March 31, 1997

U.S. High Court upholds state abortion-notice law

WASHINGTON (Reuter) - The Supreme Court Monday granted Montana's appeal and upheld as constitutional the state's parental notice law for minors seeking an abortion.

The 1995 law, which had been struck down in lower-court decisions, required that a minor notify one parent at least 48 hours before an abortion.

Alternatively, she could get a waiver of the requirement if a judge finds clear and convincing evidence that she is sufficiently mature to decide on her own or if she proves that parental notification would not be in her best interests.

A federal judge in 1995 issued a permanent injunction against the law. A U.S. appeals court upheld the decision, saying the law impermissibly narrowed the grounds under which a minor may obtain judicial authorization for an abortion.

Montana, supported by California, Georgia, Nebraska and Virginia, appealed to the Supreme Court in asking the justices to uphold the law.

The Supreme Court said in a brief, unanimous ruling that the Montana law was sufficiently similar to other

parental-notification measures it has upheld in past rulings. The justices said the appeals court ``was mistaken'' in striking down the law and it reversed last year's appeals court decision that struck down the law as unconstitutional.