Stage set for abortion showdown Pa. lawyers paving the way to high court.

December 10, 1991|By Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- Pennsylvania state attorneys are paving the way for an election-year showdown at the U.S. Supreme Court on the volatile abortion issue.

Without waiting the permitted three months to appeal a ruling that struck down part of its new anti-abortion law, Pennsylvania Attorney General Ernie Preate sent appeal papers to the court yesterday and urged the justices to rule on the case during this term.

"I want this issue resolved as quickly as possible," Preate said.

Lawyers on both sides of the case said the state's speedy appeal greatly increases the chance that the court will decide before the next presidential election whether to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 ruling that made abortion a "fundamental right."

"This pretty much locks them [justices] into deciding the case by next summer," said Roger Evans, director of litigation for the Planned Parenthood Federation. "They will be announcing an abortion ruling on the eve of the political conventions."

Because the Pennsylvania statute restricts abortion, it cannot stand if Roe vs. Wade remains the law, attorneys say.

In October, a federal appeals court in Philadelphia upheld parts of a 1989 Pennsylvania law that regulated, but did not ban, abortion.

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