The Salt Lake law firm of Jones Waldo Holbrook & McDonough will defend the state's controversial abortion law against a challenge by the American Civil Liberties Union.

"It has to be fairly presented to a court by somebody," former Gov. Calvin Rampton, president of the law firm, said. "It's a controversial issue, but that can't be a matter a law firm considers when deciding whether to take a case or not."Rampton said the firm will be assisted by Richard Wilkins, a Brigham Young University law school professor who helped draft the legislation and has served as Gov. Norm Bangerter's adviser on the issue.

Attorney General Paul Van Dam was scheduled Monday afternoon to announce the long-awaited selection of the Utah firm to defend the new law, considered the most restrictive in the nation.

The ACLU filed suit against the state last week, seeking an injunction against the law, which would take effect April 28. Bangerter has promised it will not be enforced unless it is upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The 1991 Legislature appropriated $100,000 to the attorney general's office as of July 1 to pay for the abortion law's defense. Lawmakers will be asked during the April 17 special session to appropriate the money early.

Rampton declined to specify how much money the firm was charging other than to say the state was getting a break in the attorney's hourly fees. He also said that would probably not be enough to defend the law all the way to the Supreme Court.