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Kentucky:  ACLU Challenges Waiting Period Law

Louisville -- The pro-abortion American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky filed a federal lawsuit earlier this week challenging a 1998 law that established a 24-hour waiting period for any woman seeking an abortion.

The ACLU, on behalf of three Kentucky abortion practitioners, is asking for an immediate restraining order to prevent the law -- which is not currently being enforced -- from going into effect. A pre-trial hearing will be held today in U.S. District Court.

House Bill 85 requires that women be given state-produced pamphlets containing information about the abortion, its risks, fetal development and alternatives to abortion. Women must then wait 24 hours before having the abortion. Similar laws in other states have greatly reduced the number of abortions and helped women find alternatives.

The lawsuit names the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure and the Cabinet for Health Services as defendants.

The law's enforcement has been delayed while the Cabinet for Health Services completed the pamphlets women would receive. The ACLU thinks the pamphlets could be ready by mid-March.

The bill's sponsor, state Sen. Katie Kratz Stine (R), called the lawsuit ``frivolous'' yesterday, citing the 1992 Supreme Court decision involving a Pennsylvania case, Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey. That decision allows restrictions on abortion, including 24-hour informed consent laws, so long as they do not constitute an ``undue burden'' to women.

``I think anyone who has an understanding of the law would recognize the bill was created to conform to the Supreme Court decision,'' said Stine.  ``Those issues have pretty much already been addressed -- and rejected.''

House Bill 85 had sailed through on votes of 71-24 in the House and 24-11 in the Senate. Pro-abortion Gov. Paul Patton then vetoed the bill, but the General Assembly easily overturned that veto.

A lawsuit attempting to overrule that widespread support is a ``smokescreen'' aimed at blocking the law from taking effect, said Margie Montgomery, executive director of Kentucky Right to Life.  ``The people of Kentucky and legislators have spoken,'' Montgomery said.

``If they're truly concerned about women, they should favor that period of time,'' Montgomery said of the ACLU.  ``Sometimes in a crisis, you do something in a hurry and may regret it later on.''

Twenty other states have passed requirements that women receive information about abortion. All but two also have a waiting period -- ranging from one hour to three days -- before having an abortion, according to Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

This is the second time in Kentucky that pro-abortion groups have gone to court to try   to block pro-life laws passed by the 1998 General Assembly.  In November, U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II ruled that a ban on partial-birth abortion was unconstitutional.

For More Information Contact:  Kentucky Right to Life, 134 Breckinridge Lane, Louisville, KY 40207-4931, Phone: (502)895-5959, Web:


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Maine:  Partial-Birth Abortion Petition Campaign Successful

AUGUSTA - The debate over partial-birth abortions moves back into the State House as Maine's top election official announces whether a petition drive aimed at curbing the procedure was successful.

Barring an unlikely scenario in which tens of thousands of signatures are found to be unacceptable, it appeared Sunday that pro-life supporters will get their proposal on the ballot later this year.

A month ago, pro-life leaders said they had already collected 85,000 voters' signatures - more than twice the minimum needed to force a statewide vote on partial-birth abortions.

Secretary of State Dan Gwadosky plans a news conference Monday morning to announce whether the minimum 42,101 certified signatures had been collected. If so, the proposal would first go to the Legislature, which could pass it exactly as proposed - a route preferred by pro-life supporters - or send it to voters this November.

As proposed, the question reads, "Do you want to ban a specific abortion procedure to be defined in law, except in cases where the life of the mother is in danger?''

Gwadosky would not say Sunday whether his office had found a sufficient number of signatures to advance the proposal. But he did acknowledge the groups submitted an unusually large number of signatures.

Noting that three of his last four rulings on referendum campaigns have been challenged, Gwadosky said the latest petitions required careful scrutiny by his staff. The secretary's findings have been upheld in each of the recent challenges. Besides checking the validity of voters' signatures, Gwadosky's office had to make sure circulators met the legal qualifications to collect petitions.

Pro-life advocates seemed confident weeks ago that they had surpassed the signature quota, and one described the accomplishment as "stunning.''

Executive Director Michael Heath of the Christian Civic League of Maine also said lawmakers have a new chance to pass a law similar to one approved by the House of Representatives two years ago, but defeated by the Senate.

But even if the proposal were to get through the Legislature, it would face opposition and possible veto by pro-abortion Gov. Angus King.

As proposed by referendum sponsors, the proposed law says an abortion practitioner "may not knowingly perform a partial-birth abortion and thereby kill a human fetus.'' It makes an exception if the mother's life is endangered.

For More Information Contact:
Maine Right to Life Committee
8 Green Street, Augusta, ME 04330
Phone: (207)622-3837


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