State officials said Tuesday that they will appeal a judge's ruling in favor of a Roman Catholic bishop's attempt to block the opening of two abortion clinics.
In response to a suit by Bishop Howard Hubbard of the Albany Diocese, state Supreme Court Justice Harold Hughes ruled last week that state Health Commissioner David Axelrod had acted "arbitrarily" in approving the opening of the Planned Parenthood clinics in Albany and nearby Hudson.
But, in announcing their intention to appeal, Axelrod and state Atty. Gen. Robert Abrams asserted that "the department followed accepted procedures and correctly determined that there is a need for out-of-hospital abortion services."
Axelrod approved the clinics based on his decision that there had been a demonstrated public need for them. But Hughes ruled that the commissioner's determination of public need was based on a "rigid numerical policy, not set forth in the statute of regulations."
The original suit against the clinics was brought by the Albany Diocese, which is headed by Hubbard; a medical-care provider and maternity-counseling arm of the diocese; a Roman Catholic nun; and an Albany woman who lived near one of the clinics.
In his decision, Hughes ruled that only the nun and the Albany woman had a right to sue the state. He said the corporations--the diocese and its medical-care arm--had no right to sue.
"This case does not involve the legality or morality of abortions," Hughes said.
The appeal will go to the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court, which in New York is the main trial-level court.