Judge overturns part of abortion law

The Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA Poor women seeking taxpayer-funded abortions don't have to produce a police report to prove they were victims of rape or incest, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

U.S. District Judge John P. Fullam, in overturning part of Pennsylvania's restrictive abortion law, also said the state could not require that two doctors certify an abortion is necessary to save a woman's life before it can be paid for with federal funds.

Those sections of the Pennsylvania law were improper because they are more restrictive than the federal Hyde Amendment, Fullam said in a six-page ruling.

The Hyde Amendment, which banned the use of federal money for abortions except to save a woman's life, was amended by Congress last October to include cases of rape and incest.

The Hyde Amendment took effect on Oct. 1, 1993, more than a year after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Pennsylvania's 1989 abortion law, which is one of the nation's most restrictive. With court challenges exhausted, the Pennsylvania law finally went into effect on March 20.

In May, the Clinton administration warned several states they could lose their Medicaid funding if they did not comply with federal law.

Arkansas, Colorado, Montana and Michigan also have been under court order to follow federal Medicaid rules.

State officials said they would appeal.

The judge's ruling did not affect other elements of the state's abortion law, which also requires that women wait 24 hours between receiving counseling and receiving an abortion and that teen-age girls obtain parental or court approval before receiving an abortion.

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