Supreme Court Case Study
Planned Parenthood vs. Casey
On June 29, 1992 the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision re-affirmed Roe vs. Wade and held that a women has a constitutional right under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to choose to have an abortion. Although its result was basically the same to that in Roe vs. Wade, the reasoning and explanation for the result was significantly different in a number of important respects. Prior to viability, a state had the legislative power to regulate abortion but only if the regulation does not “unduly burden” the abortion right. The Court held that an “undue burden” exists if the purpose or effect of a regulation places substantial obstacles in the path of a woman seeking abortion. A state may regulate abortion to ensure that the woman’s choice is informed… meaning she is educated on the different options available other than abortion. Regulations may also be used to persuade the woman to choose childbirth over abortion and a state may also enact health or safety regulations to further the health or safety of the woman seeking an abortion, provided that they do not present a substantial obstacle to a woman seeking an aboraion. Subsequent to viability, the state, in promoting its interest in the potentiality of human life, may regulate and even prohibit abortion, except where it is necessary in appropriate medical judgment for the preservation of the life or health of the mother. However, attempts to prohibit abortion after viability would be struck down because of the broad definition of health adopted by the Court which includes psychological health - including distress at being refused an abortion.
The decision upheld a Pennsylvania law requiring a 24 hour waiting period prior to abortion and provisions mandating information on fetal development as well as risks from abortion and abortion alternatives. A provision requiring an informed parental consent with a judicial by-pass provision was...