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Federal Judge Likely to Delay Enforcement of Parental-Notice Law

U.S. District Judge James C. Turk indicated during a hearing that he will likely delay enforcement of Virginia’s strict parental consent law. Turk commented, “I really see little or no harm for granting a temporary restraining order, and I think it would serve the public interest not to be enforcing the law if it is unconstitutional.” He noted that he would make a formal decision regarding the restraining order on June 30th. During the hearing, Turk had engaged in a vigorous debate with the state’s Deputy Attorney General William H. Hurd regarding the legislature’s intention in passing the law. The legislature omitted three key provisions that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled are mandatory when passing state parental-consent laws. These provisions are: that states guarantee confidentiality to teenage women who ask judges to waive the requirement, that states ensure a speedy verdict from the judges, and that states require judges to grant the medical procedure automatically if a girl proves that she is “mature.” Turk, a former Republican Senator appointed to the bench 25 years ago by President Richard M. Nixon, commented at one point, “A person could look at it, a person who felt strongly on the other side, that the legislation was drafted to prevent abortions [not to inform parents]. That bothers me.”

Planned Parenthood, along with three state affiliates and five clinics and physicians, filed the challenge to the new law on June 12th. Turk said he would likely delay enforcement of the law for 30 to 45 days while the courts rule on its constitutionality.

Sources:

The Washington Post - June 25, 1997