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Judge clears way for young incest victim to have abortion

Graphic July 24, 1998
Web posted at: 10:56 p.m. EDT (2256 GMT)

MOUNT CLEMENS, Michigan (CNN) -- A Michigan judge Friday cleared the way for a 12-year-old girl, allegedly impregnated by her 17-year-old brother, to have a late-term abortion.

Last week, local prosecutors got a court order taking custody of the girl and preventing her parents from taking her to Kansas for an abortion. But after she underwent a court- ordered psychological evaluation, prosecutors agreed to withdraw their petition.

"We wanted to make sure she wasn't being rushed out of town by parents who were embarrassed," said Macomb County prosecutor Carl Marlinga. "We wanted to come in to slow the process down, to at least make sure that there was medical consultation and psychological consultation so that ... the wishes of this 12-year-old girl could be taken into account."

The girl is 28 weeks pregnant. She has to go to Kansas for an abortion, because Michigan law doesn't allow abortions after the 24th week unless the pregnancy is life-threatening.

Kansas law allows abortions at 28 weeks if two doctors certify the pregnancy will cause "a substantial and irreversible impairment of a major physical or mental function."

The attorney for the girl's parents, Lauren Tomayko, said the parents and the girl will go to Kansas so she can be evaluated for an abortion. But Tomayko said a decision as to whether the girl actually will have the procedure will be made after the family meets with experts at the clinic.

The parents and experts in Michigan who have seen the girl during the past week agree an abortion appears to be in her best interest, Tomayko said.

The parents say they didn't learn until July 6 that their daughter was pregnant. The girl and her brother slept in the same room with their beds pushed together at their home in Sterling Heights, a suburb of Detroit. She later told police that her brother raped her.

A cousin of the girl went to authorities after learning about the alleged incest and the family's plans to travel to Kansas for an abortion.

Marlinga said he expects to file first-degree criminal sexual conduct charges against the brother next week. A conviction is punishable by up to life imprisonment, but he said a plea agreement is possible.

"We are not looking for him to spend the rest of his life in prison," the prosecutor said.

The brother remains with his parents, while the girl is staying with an aunt. The family has assured authorities that there will be no further contact between the brother and sister, and social workers are to monitor the family.

On Friday, Probate Judge Pamela Gilbert O'Sullivan turned down a request by an anti-abortion lawyer, Rebecca Wasser, to be appointed guardian of the girl's fetus.

Wasser, who told the judge she was conceived when her mother was raped, said she had found a doctor who would induce labor now, which would give the fetus about a 70 percent chance of survival.

Correspondent Patty Davis contributed to this report.

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