- The Washington Times - Monday, August 5, 2002

PHILADELPHIA A judge has barred a woman temporarily from aborting her pregnancy, prompting protest from pro-choice groups and applause from pro-life advocates and fathers' rights organizations.
The order came in a lawsuit filed by a man who wants former girlfriend Tanya Meyers to carry her pregnancy to term. John Stachokus says he is willing to take full or partial custody of the child and contends in his lawsuit that Miss Meyers is being pressured by her mother to abort.
Luzerne County Common Pleas Court Judge Michael Conahan issued the temporary injunction Wednesday. He did not say when he would issue a ruling but asked both sides to submit briefs by today.
Until then, Miss Meyers, 23, who is 10 weeks pregnant, has been forbidden from having an abortion, an action that would render moot Mr. Stachokus' lawsuit.
"There is truly no legal basis for the injunction to be in effect; it's a miscarriage of justice, an abuse of the legal system and an absolute disgrace," said Susan Fritchey, a lawyer with the Women's Law Project and co-counsel for Miss Meyers.
Miss Fritchey and other feminist groups say the judge's decision runs counter to legal precedents establishing that the decision whether to have an abortion is the woman's alone.
Elizabeth Cavendish, legal director for the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, said she could not recall another case of a court prohibiting a woman from having an abortion.
"It absolutely stunned me when this happened; it's clearly an error as a matter of law," she said. "You wonder what judge in this country is unaware that women in this country have the right to choice."
Miss Meyers' attorneys filed an emergency appeal Thursday in state Superior Court in Harrisburg seeking to lift the injunction. That court instead asked Mr. Stachokus' attorney to submit additional legal papers by tomorrow.
Miss Meyers' attorneys filed a similar petition with the state Supreme Court, which denied the appeal but reserved the right to revisit the issue later.
Neither Miss Meyers nor Mr. Stachokus returned calls seeking comment.
But abortion opponents and fathers' rights groups praised the judge's decision, saying men should have a say about the fate of their children.
"We talk about fathers negatively so often, about how they don't want to be responsible for their children, and this guy is doing everything he can to be sure his unborn child isn't aborted," said Dianna Thompson, executive director of the American Coalition for Fathers and Children.
Current law requires a man to support his biological child, even if he doesn't want to have a child and the mother has brought the pregnancy to term over his objections.
"Men's rights are trampled on all the time when it comes to reproductive rights," Miss Thompson said.
Mr. Stachokus' attorney, John P. Williamson, said Miss Meyers, who has a 2-year-old child, has been coerced into deciding on an abortion by her mother, who dislikes Mr. Stachokus.
"They had picked out godparents for the baby, she had picked out names, then there was a sudden turnaround," Mr. Williamson said. "We want an injunction that says no abortion is allowed and this baby lives."

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