The American Civil Liberties Union, supported by a coalition of medical, religious and civil rights groups, asked the D.C. Court of Appeals yesterday to rehear the case of a terminally ill woman ordered in June to undergo a cesarean section against her objections and those of her physicians.

ACLU attorneys said that the woman's constitutional right to privacy was violated and that the case establishes a dangerous precedent, allowing courts to order medical procedures over the judgments of doctors and without the informed consent of patients.

The baby, a girl, died shortly after the operation at George Washington University Hospital. The 27-year-old mother, a cancer patient identified yesterday by her first name, Angie, died two days later.

The case has attracted national attention, raising difficult questions about the degree to which a woman's bodily integrity can be balanced against society's right to rescue an endangered fetus, medical experts said. The issues, they said, have broader implications for the terminally ill, the handicapped and others in less than good health.

ACLU staff attorney Lynn M. Paltrow and Robert E. Sylvester, Angie's attorney, announced the filing of the petition for a rehearing by the full court a news conference attended by Angie's parents, Daniel and Nettie Stoner of Clarksville, Md.

The Stoners said that what happened to Angie should never happen again. In an emotional statement that brought tears to the eyes of many in the room at the National Press Club, Nettie Stoner, 47, who is disabled as a result of an accident and was in a wheelchair said that her daughter "taught me that you can't be discriminated against. She would say to me, 'Mom, don't just sit there. Get out and do something.' I know if she were alive today she would pursue this fight."

The order that Angie be given a cesarean section was "unprecedented," said Paltrow, a member of the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project. "In our country the law is clear. One human is being is under no obligations to sacrifice his or her life for another life . . . . "

Angie, who suffered from a rare cancer from the age of 13, was admitted to the hospital in June after a tumor was discovered in her lung. Doctors said her case was terminal and that the chances of the fetus' survival were slim. During the 26th week of her pregnancy, hospital attorneys sought a ruling from the D.C. Superior Court to decide whether the hospital had a duty to try to save the baby.

Angie's physicians and the hospital's obstetrics staff were opposed to the operation, according to court papers. Throughout her pregnancy, Angie had consistently expressed a desire to prolong her own life, including taking medicine that she knew could harm the fetus, according to Sylvester. After Judge Emmet Sullivan issued his ruling but before an emergency appeal was heard by the appellate panel, she regained consciousness and twice told her doctor she did not want to have the cesarean section.

"I don't want it done. I don't want it done," she said, according to the ACLU petition filed yesterday.

During the hearing, Sullivan was told that the baby had a 50 to 60 percent chance of surviving the operation and less than a 20 percent chance of having a handicap, such as cerebral palsy or blindness. Angie's physicians also said that the operation could hasten her death and that the obstetrics staff was reluctant to perform it.

The three-judge appellate panel considered the case during a conference call. Angie, at the same time, was being readied for surgery. When the panel refused to block Sullivan's order, Angie was wheeled into the operating room.

In an opinion filed this month to explain the appellate panel's ruling, Appeals Court Judge Frank Q. Nebeker wrote that "with an unborn child, the state's interest in preserving the health of the child may run squarely against the mother's interest in her bodily integrity."

He continued later, "The cesarean section would not significantly affect A.C.'s {Angie's} condition because she had, at best, two days left of sedated life; the complications arising from surgery would not significantly alter that prognosis. The child, on the other hand, had a chance of surviving delivery, despite the possibility that it would be born handicapped."

Paltrow contended yesterday that in effect Angie's rights were reduced in proportion to her failing health. "Under this court's reasoning, any pregnant woman could be forced to undergo life-risking surgery solely for the benefit of the fetus . . . . Furthermore, this case sets precedent for court orders that would require pregnant women to stay in bed, to stay home from work, or to eat certain foods if such activities were beneficial to the fetus. Under the court's reasoning that a terminally ill person is going to die anyway, people who are seriously ill could be forced to donate organs or other body parts."

Angie's and similar cases led the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to reiterate yesterday its opposition to court-ordered treatment for pregnant women.

There are other mechanisms, such as living wills, family consensus or power of attorney, for making decisions about fetal and maternal treatment, said Dr. John Graham, speaking for the association.

Other interests in such cases also come to bear, said Cathleen Nolan, a pediatrician with the Hastings Center for Medical Ethics in New York. For a family or physicians faced with a difficult medical decisions to seek guidance from a court might be acceptable, Nolan said.

"When the petitioner is a hospital administration who cares to protect its own interests perhaps more than the interests of the patient, then I question the court imposing its judgment from a distance when the clinicians and family had obviously come to a decision they could live with," she said.

The ACLU argued that despite the deaths of the mother and the baby, the case is not moot. "This case should be reheard so courts are not given improper 'guidance,' " the lawyers said.

A response from the appeals court to the ACLU petition should be issued within 30 days. If the petition is rejected, Paltrow said, the ACLU will ask the Supreme Court to hear the case.

Among the groups supporting the ACLU's petition are the American Association of University Women, American College of Nurse Midwives, American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, American Public Health Association, Americans for Religious Liberty, National Abortion Rights Action League, National Black Women's Health Project, National Organization for Women, Union of American Hebrew Congregations, National Coalition of American Nuns and Planned Parenthood Federation of America.