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OPINIONS ARE DIVIDED ON ABORTION LAW IN WHICH TEENS NEED TO NOTIFY PARENT

A Supreme Court decision upholding an Ohio law requiring teen-age girls to notify one parent before an abortion is "a step in the right direction," a Buffalo leader of the pro-life movement said Monday.

However, a pro-choice leader said the court should quit clouding the issue with legal qualifications and restrictions, and let women decide whether to have abortions.

The Supreme Court Monday upheld laws that require teen-age girls to notify one parent before an abortion, but struck down a similar law from Minnesota requiring that both biological parents be told. At the same time, the court said it was constitutional for a state to require that a minor get either the approval of both her parents or a judge.

"It's a step in the right direction," the Rev. David Anderson, president of the Western New York Pro-Life Clergy Council, said. "At least it would allow the family to be in on the decision."

But the Rev. Beryl T. Choi, convener of the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights, said the court is interfering with the rights of women to make their own decisions.

"Abortion is a moral issue and not a legal issue," Ms. Choi said. "I think Roe vs. Wade (a 1973 decision legalizing abortion) should be allowed to stand the way it is."

However, neither Mr. Anderson nor Ms. Choi was totally displeased -- nor totally happy -- with the package of decisions.

Mr. Anderson said states should have the right to require notice of both parents, but that notification of one parent is probably the strongest requirement abortion foes can realistically achieve.

He said pregnant teen-agers need the support and guidance of parents, even if they are reluctant to discuss a pregnancy with them.

"They have a lot of important decisions to make, and without being derogatory to young people, they don't necessarily handle them with the same maturity an older person might," he said. "One parent (being notified) is the very minimum, I think."

Mr. Anderson stressed that abortion foes are seeking to make most abortions illegal, and consider partial measures, such as those reached by the Supreme Court on Monday, to be only steps toward their larger goal.

Ms. Choi, however, said the court should let women decide for themselves about abortions.

"I always stress that women are as capable of making moral decisions as men," she said. "The implication of all these legal decisions is that they are not."

Putting restrictions and conditions on abortions introduces arbitrary legal standards where they do not belong, Ms. Choi said. "When you start this kind of 'yes, but sort of' process, someone always gets into a bind, someone is always compromised," she said.

However, Ms. Choi said, the Supreme Court package was not entirely negative.

"My immediate reaction on the issue of (notifying) both parents is: 'Hallelujah!,' " she said.

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