North Dakota gets permission to enforce anti-abortion law

February 20, 1993|By Lyle Denniston | Lyle Denniston,Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- Another state -- North Dakota -- got a federal court's permission yesterday to start enforcing an anti-abortion law as the impact of the Supreme Court's latest ruling on that issue continued to spread across the country.

Chief U.S. District Judge Rodney S. Webb of Fargo, N.D., ruled that the state's 24-hour waiting period and government-required doctor's medical-legal discussion of the abortion procedure to a woman seeking an abortion could now be enforced, 18 months after he had originally blocked it from going into effect.

The judge made it clear that states passing abortion limits such as those the Supreme Court upheld last June in a Pennsylvania case no longer have to justify the restrictions in court before putting them into effect.

Judge Webb said he was "not unsympathetic to the burdens a woman may face when seeking to have an abortion in North Dakota."

But he said he had no power to listen to arguments that the law would have the effect of making it too difficult for a woman to get an an abortion.

When he stopped the law in August 1991, the judge said the law probably would be ruled unconstitutional as a result of earlier Supreme Court decisions. He then went ahead to study its constitutionality.

He said yesterday that the Supreme Court's Pennsylvania decision was a clear signal that similar laws could be enforced as written, thus postponing any further challenge until the actual effect on women could be assessed in the future.

It could take months, at least, for a clinic providing abortions to gather evidence to demonstrate the impact on women.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.