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Abortionist Higuera To Be Prosecuted in Michigan
Court holds that late-abortion law is not unconstitutionally vague
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"The sole dissenting judge claimed that the law is too vague, that abortionists can't figure it out. But Higuera is evidently the first one ever to be so dense he was unable to follow the law."
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• Abortion case is cleared for trial

Dateline: 2/3/01

A panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals has decided that the state can go ahead and prosecute Dr. Jose Gilberto Higuera for performing an illegal 28-week abortion in 1994. Two lower court rulings had struck down the charges against Higuera, saying that Michigan's abortion law is unconstitutionally vague.

Michigan law prohibits abortion of a viable fetus unless the abortion is supposedly necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.

Officials believe that the case against Higuera is the only time a doctor has been prosecuted for an illegal abortion since Roe vs. Wade struck down the nation's abortion laws in 1973.

Higuera is accused on not only aborting a pregnancy at 28 weeks, beyond the state's legal reason, but with altering her medical records after the state began to investigate the case. The woman, who said that she sought the abortion for "personal reasons," said that Higuera never told her how far advanced her pregnancy was.

The dissenting judge, Kathleen Jansen, said that the law is unenforcable because a doctor couldn't be expected to be able to discern which abortions would be legal and which would be prohibited. This is a familiar theme, as abortion advocates had challenged "partial birth abortion" bans on the grounds that the typical abortionist is too clueless to decipher the law.

Higuera no longer practices medicine, his lawyer said, and no longer lives in Michigan.

Higuera was accused at least once in the past of doing a later abortion than he should have been doing under the circumstances. A patient at Women's Advisory Center in Wayne County, Michigan, filed suit against Higuera in 1974, saying that he was negligent in performing an abortion after 12 weeks outside of a hospital. She suffered a perforated uterus, small bowel obstruction, peri-uterine abscess, and needed a hysterectomy, salpingectomy, and small bowel resection. (Wayne County Circuit Court Case No. 74-040309-NM)

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