Lawyers for a Northern Virginia physician convicted last year of performing an illegal abortion asked a federal judge yesterday to remove what they called unconstitutional restrictions placed on the doctor's license by Virginia medical authorities.
Attorney Roy Lucas argued that a provision that Dr. Chris Simopoulos of Falls Church perform neither first- nor second-trimester abortions for the next two years as a condition of regaining his license is "10 times broader" than is justified.
"The first trimester abortion one performed in the first three months of pregnancy is one of the safest operations around," Lucas told District Judge Oren R. Lewis in Alexandria. "It might be reasonable to require Dr. Simopoulos to get a second opinion on second-trimester abortions."
Lewis took the matter under advisement after a one-hour hearing.
Simopoulos' license to practice at his clinics in Falls Church and Woodbridge was revoked in May 1980 following his conviction in Fairfax County on charges of performing a second-trimester abortion on a 17-year-old high school student at a clinic instead of in a hospital as required by state law.
His license was restored by court order in August of last year pending an appeal of the conviction but was revoked again this May after the Virginia Supreme Court upheld the guilty verdict.
Simopoulos subsequently served a 20-day jail term in Fairfax County. His license finally was restored conditionally by the Virginia State Medical Board at a hearing July 23 in Virginia Beach.
Lucas said yesterday the restrictions affect about half of the patients in Simopoulos' obstetrics and gynecology practice, and that of those, fully three-fourths are women in their first trimester of pregnancy.
Julia Krebs-Markrich of the Virginia attorney general's office contended that the restrictions are sufficiently narrow. "He can practice brain surgery if he can find a hospital that will give him privileges," she told Lewis.
An appeal by Simopoulos challenging the constitutionality of the Virginia abortion statute has been forwarded to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has not yet indicated whether it will hear the case.