Missouri Abortion Ban on Hold

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.--Missouri's new law banning a type of late-term abortion was put on hold yesterday by a federal judge after opponents went to court to block what they called a direct attack on the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

Abortion rights activists say the law, enacted Thursday when Gov. Mel Carnahan's veto was overridden, was written in such a way that it also criminalized more common, legal abortion procedures.

Planned Parenthood, the state's largest abortion provider, sued to obtain the temporary stay. The order lasts until Sept. 27, when U.S. District Judge Scott O. Wright is scheduled to consider whether the law is constitutional.

Before the ruling, Planned Parenthood had suspended abortions at its clinic in St. Louis. The clinic in the Kansas City area that performs abortions is in the suburb of Overland Park, Kan., and is not affected by the law.

Bans on the procedure, sometimes called "partial-birth" abortion, have been blocked or severely limited in 19 of the 20 states where they have been challenged, the New York-based Center for Reproductive Law and Policy said.

Backers of the Missouri law said its approach is different from an outright ban, because it creates a specific felony called "infanticide." The law subjects anyone who causes "the death of a living infant . . . by an overt act performed when the infant is partially born or born" to charges equivalent to murder.

In its lawsuit, Planned Parenthood said the law is "so broadly and vaguely worded as to put plaintiffs at risk of criminal prosecution for virtually any abortion they perform, regardless of the stage of pregnancy."

Amnesia Victim, Kin Reunited

ADA, Okla.--A New Mexico woman suffering from severe amnesia was unable to recognize her three teenage children at a tearful reunion in Oklahoma, more than a month after her family reported her missing.

"They cried. . . . I wondered what I did to make them cry," a slightly bewildered Tina Martinez said after the reunion with her children and her sister.

Martinez, 37, also spoke by telephone with her husband Jerry and said she probably would return to the family home in Albuquerque, even though the prospect seemed a little daunting.

"I feel like I was just dropped on the planet, . . . but I need to start somewhere, no matter how scary it is," she said.

Martinez had lived in a women's shelter while authorities tried to determine who she was after a truck driver dropped her off and told a store clerk to call for help because she was bleeding from a head wound.

Albuquerque police said she was in a car with her husband Jerry, became upset and got out at a stoplight on Aug. 14. When she arrived in Oklahoma five days later, the 37-year-old dog breeder was unable to recall her name or the names of anybody she knew. Authorities established contact with her family after a distant relative read a newspaper story about her.