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Published: Saturday, 9/17/2005

Groups file appeal in attempt to delay Ohio abortion limits

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU

COLUMBUS Abortion-rights advocates yesterday appealed last week s federal court ruling upholding Ohio s new restrictions on abortion, hoping to at least put off the law s impact while the court battle continues.

A temporary delay of requirements that women meet face-to- face with their doctors at least 24 hours before their scheduled abortions and that minors obtain written parental consent will expire at 5 p.m. Thursday.

The appeal, filed with the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, requests an indefinite extension of the 15-day stay issued last week after clinics reported canceling appointments abruptly to comply with a law that had been placed on hold for seven years.

The law does impose an undue burden, said Al Gerhardstein, attorney for Cincinnati Women s Services Inc., which challenged the law.

Ohio is the only state with a restriction of only one [court-approved] bypass [of the parental-consent requirement], which places a severe burden on minors, he said.

An appeal was considered likely, but Ohio Right to Life said it opposes another delay in implementation of the law.

We certainly do not think there should be an indefinite stay in complying with what is a common-sense law, said Mark Lally, legislative director. The interests of women are served by getting good information and having an opportunity to speak with a physician before making a decision on surgery. It s normal quality medical practice.

Roughly 35,000 abortions a year are performed in Ohio, according to statistics from the state Department of Health.

Opponents of the law have argued it would put poor and rural women at a disadvantage because they would be required to make two trips to a clinic or pay for a hotel if long distances are involved.

The law, passed in 1998 and in litigation since, requires physicians to discuss with their patients risks and alternatives to abortion at least a full day before the procedure is performed.

Current law requires minors to put a parent on notice before undergoing an abortion, but the new law will require that minor to get written consent from at least one parent. It also makes it more difficult for minors to get juvenile court orders bypassing the consent requirement.



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