A Michigan judge cleared the way yesterday for the parents of a 12-year-old incest victim to take her to Kansas for a late-term abortion, a week after ruling the girl could not leave the state until she was evaluated by a psychiatrist.

Macomb County Probate Judge Pamela Gilbert O'Sullivan issued an order last Friday blocking the parents from taking their daughter, impregnated by her older brother 29 weeks ago, from their home in suburban Detroit to an abortion clinic in Wichita. She ordered a psychological evaluation of the girl within two weeks and gave the child protective services office a month to draft a plan for handling the matter.

The timetable was denounced as ridiculous by civil libertarians and abortion rights advocates, who cited the ticking clock of the girl's advanced pregnancy.

With the evaluation finished -- doctors determined that carrying the baby to term would harm the girl -- O'Sullivan lifted her order, leaving the child free to get an abortion outside Michigan if her parents can find someone willing to do so this far along in the pregnancy.

The decision appeared to end at least the legal part of a drama that for a brief moment served as a nexus for issues -- late-term abortions and crossing state lines to escape restrictive laws -- that have fueled the abortion debate in Congress and around the country.

The girl and her 17-year-old brother shared a bedroom, their twin beds pushed together. The two had sex one time in early January, they told police. Although the girl visited a doctor because of nausea and vomiting at least once, pregnancy was not diagnosed until this month. At that time, her parents began searching for a place to get her an abortion.

Michigan allows abortions after the 24th week only if the mother's life is in danger, while Kansas allows abortions at any point if it can be shown that carrying the baby to term would result in "irreversible and irreparable" physical or mental harm -- proof the family did not have before last week's hearing.

This week, a medical doctor filed a report warning of a significant risk of genetic disorder for the baby because of the incest and physical complications for the baby and mother because of her age. Also, the girl was examined this week by a psychiatrist, who wrote, "The prolongation of a pregnancy serves absolutely no psychiatric or psychological goals, and it is highly likely to result in substantial and potentially irreversible emotional injuries."

Republican leaders in Congress have sought recently to make it illegal to take a minor out of state for an abortion without a parent's consent and to continue a ban on public funding for federal workers' abortions. In addition, they plan votes this year in an attempt to ban one type of late-term abortion. In that procedure, sometimes called "partial-birth" abortion, a fetus is delivered feet-first up to its head, the base of the skull is punctured and the contents of the brain are suctioned out, allowing for passage through the birth canal.

Abortions as late as 29 weeks are generally conducted by that method or by poisoning the fetus and delivering it intact, according to Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee.

Until a doctor's visit July 6, the parents had no idea the two had intercourse, said Edward Greenup, the girl's lawyer, nor did they know that she was pregnant. "She doesn't show that well and always wore baggy clothes," he explained. "Who would look at their girl and see she was gaining weight and think, Oh my God, my 12-year-old daughter is pregnant?' "

Once they found out, they sent her to live with an aunt and took her to a local hospital to see if she could get an abortion. With the girl 27 weeks pregnant, the hospital could not legally perform the procedure and referred her to a clinic in Wichita, where the family made an appointment.

Meanwhile, one of the doctors who examined the girl had notified police, who informed the Macomb County government. On July 16, prosecutors filed a petition in juvenile court alleging neglect -- that the parents' inattention made the incident possible, that the two should not have slept in adjoining beds, and that the father dismissed his son's wrongdoing as a "boo-boo."

At the same time, prosecutors said they were concerned that the parents, recent Indian immigrants who spoke little English, may not have understood the ramifications of late-term abortion. Also, Kansas required a documented referral from a physician, which they did not have.

Once the paperwork was all in place, the prosecution withdrew its petition. "We only wanted to be sure {the parents} were acting in the best interest of their child," said assistant Macomb County prosecutor William Harding.

Not so, said Michael J. Steinberg, acting legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, which assisted the girl's family.

"If the true concern was . . . whether the abortion would be in the best interest of the child -- a victim of rape and incest -- we would think they would have a psych hearing as soon as possible," he said. "It certainly appeared that whole petition was a pretext to prevent this child from having an abortion."

Erin Wilson, a Right to Life of Michigan spokesman, also disputed that the court was acting in the girl's best interest, but for a different reason.

"In any case this baby will be delivered," he said. "This abortion procedure involves delivering this child. It's just that the child is dead. And that process has infinitely greater potential for harm in the way of infertility, sickness or death."

The parents' attorney said after yesterday's hearing that the couple will now take their daughter to Kansas, where the clinic has to decide, after examining her, whether to perform the abortion.