Anti-abortion forces on Friday praised a judge's decision upholding Michigan's law restricting minors' access to abortion. Pro-choice groups called the ruling cowardly and promised an immediate appeal.

Judge Philip Schaefer said his refusal to block the law was consistent with previous state court decisions against abortion rights."Michigan has a long tradition of opposition to abortion, of intensely defending state statutes in light of federal interpretations, and of hallowing the relationship between parents and children," he said.

"While recent trends in California and Florida may demonstrate that states are willing to expand rights beyond the federal Constitution through interpretations of state constitutions, it is equally clear that opponents of legislation of this type have an uphill battle (in Michigan) no matter how interesting or how challenging their claims may be," he wrote.

The decision coincidentally came on Good Friday, which every year provides a backdrop for anti-abortion protests such as a "stations of the cross" demonstration in Brookline, Mass. About 100 protesters included one who carried a large cross to three clinics.

In Fargo, N.D., more than two dozen anti-abortion protesters were jailed on trespassing charges after a three-hour sit-in at the state's only abortion clinic.

In Michigan, the executive director of the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union assailed Schaefer's decision as cowardly.