A Northern Virginia physician asked a federal judge yesterday to prevent Fairfax County officials from prosecuting him on a charge that he performed an illegal abortion on a teen-ager last month without her parents' consent.
The physician, Dr. Chris Simopoulos of Fairfax Station, claimed that a 1976 U.S. Supreme Court decision outlawed on constitutional grounds the need for parental consent in abortion cases, according to papes filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria.
Simopoulos, 45, also claimed that the Virginia requirement that abortions on women more than 13 weeks pregnant be performed in a hospital is unconstitutional, according to court papers.
Simopoulos, who was employed at the American Woman's Clinic in Falls Church, was arrested by Falls Church police on Nov. 29 after a dead fetus was found in a Springfield hotel room. Officials said at the time they believed the fetus was about 20 weeks old.
Simopoulos was charged with performing an abortion outside a hospital setting on a woman more than 13 weeks pregnant. Yesterday's suit seeks to prevent county officials or a Fairfax grand jury from bringing a separate, parental consent charge.
A preliminary hearing in general district court in Falls Church is set for Jan. 15.
Named as defendants in the suit were Fairfax County chief prosecutor Robert R. Horan Jr., the city of Falls Church and the Falls Church police department.
The arrest of Simopoulos marked the first time in five years anyone has been charged with performing an illegal abortion in Fairfax County.
According to court papers, a woman identified only as "Jane Doe" consulted Simopoulos in November concerning "an unwanted pregnancy." The woman did not have parental consent for an abortion, and "was terrified" that her parents would learn of her pregnancy, the suit said.
Although the court papers do not state that Simopoulos injected the woman with a saline solution to induce an abortion, the papers state that Simopoulos advises patients to go to a hospital after such an injection once they "begin aborting the fetus."
The papers claim that for unknown reasons the woman choose not to go to a hospital, and that Simopoulos does not know under what circumstances she aborted.