PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Lori Sitler
Phone: (302) 577-8314
Pager: (302) 247-1132
Date: February 11, 2003
Argument Heard in Federal
Court on 24 Hour Waiting
Period for Abortions
(Wilmington, DE): This morning, in a 7 a.m. hearing before Judge Sue L. Robinson in the U.S. District Court for Delaware, the Attorney General's office presented oral argument on their Motion, filed yesterday, to Dissolve the Restraining Order and to Dismiss the Complaint filed by Planned Parenthood of Delaware (PPD) challenging the state's 24 hour waiting period prior to performing an abortion.
The Court indicated that she would continue the Restraining Order she entered on January 31, 2003 until she's had the opportunity to review all submissions, however, she will modify the Restraining Order as only one part of the statute is challenged. The present Restraining Order is over-broad and includes the provision regarding informed consent. She also indicated that she is willing to hear from counsel about further modifications.
In its Brief in Support of Dissolving the Restraining Order and Motion to Dismiss,
the State argued that the Court should dissolve the order since 24 Del.C. §1794 is constitutional; there is a lack of jurisdiction since PPD has no standing to sue nor is there a case in controversy. PPD seeks to enjoin a non-criminal regulatory statute that is directed solely to physicians and is not enforced by the Attorney General; PPD failed to state a claim against the Attorney General upon which relief can be granted.
The Court determined the need for additional information from both PPD and the State.
PPD will be filing a response to the State's Motion to Dissolve the Restraining Order and Dismiss
the Complaint in 7 days. The State will respond 7 days thereafter. The Court indicated that her decision on the Temporary Restraining Order would be announced 7 days after all briefing is completed.
The Attorney General's office determined that the 24 hour waiting period was enforceable
in the context of legal advice given to its client, the Board of Medical Practice, during the investigation of a complaint before the Board in 2001. In March 2002, the Attorney General's office informed the then Director of the Board of Medical Practice that, based on the 1992 Casey decision, Delaware's 24 hour waiting period was enforceable but recommended that all physicians be notified that the Board would now enforce the provision before the Board took any disciplinary action. The Board included a notice of enforceability of the 24 hours waiting period in its annual mailing to licensees during the week of January 27, 2003.