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An Ogden pastor who is among plaintiffs in the suit challenging Utah's restrictive abortion law says she will defy the judge if ordered to answer questions about her abortion counseling.

The Rev. Marie S. Green, pastor of the United Church of Christ in Ogden, could face dismissal from the case or a jail term for contempt of court.Trial in the suit is scheduled for April.

So far in pretrial proceedings, Green has refused to answer state-hired attorneys' questions about the women with whom she has discussed abortion as an option.

A motion by the state to compel Green's responses is to be argued next week before a U.S. magistrate.

In court papers, Green contends that divulging such information would violate her confidentiality with parishioners and ultimately force her to leave her congregation.

She contends even vague answers could be enough for some to identify women in her parish with whom she may have discussed abortions.

Mary Anne Wood, the attorney hired by the state to defend the law, said answers to the questions are needed to probe allegations Green and others have made in bringing the suit. "We are simply trying to get all the information we need to put on an adequate defense," Wood said.

"I do not think that I would turn over the information even if the court were to order me to do so," Green states in court documents. "I would endure the secular legal consequences rather than abridge my religious obligations."

Although the law provides for a possible jail sentence for contempt, Wood said that if Green were to balk at a court order to answer the questions, the most likely result would be her dismissal as a plaintiff in the case.

The state already has a request pending to oust Green and the six other clergy members from the case. Wood contends the clergy members are not adversely affected by the abortion law and that their religious claims have been rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court in other abortion cases.

Green's religion supports the right to abortion and asserts that "a women's right to decide whether or not to continue a pregnancy is thus God-given," the suit contends.

Plaintiffs' lawyer Janet Benshoof contends the state's questions to the clergy members are harassment.

"They are trying to make this another Joan of Arc," said Benshoof, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney.

Wood, however, said the questions are routine for pretrial proceedings in civil cases. She said it is ironic that the clergy, as well as some doctors who are among the 27 plaintiffs, initiated the suit but are balking at some procedures.

Utah's 1991 law would prohibit most abortions.