Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey
505 U.S. 833 (1992)

Annotate this Case

OCTOBER TERM, 1991

Syllabus

PLANNED PARENTHOOD OF SOUTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA ET AL. v. CASEY, GOVERNOR OF PENNSYLVANIA, ET AL.

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT

No. 91-744. Argued April 22, 1992-Decided June 29, 1992*

At issue are five provisions of the Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act of 1982: § 3205, which requires that a woman seeking an abortion give her informed consent prior to the procedure, and specifies that she be provided with certain information at least 24 hours before the abortion is performed; § 3206, which mandates the informed consent of one parent for a minor to obtain an abortion, but provides a judicial bypass procedure; § 3209, which commands that, unless certain exceptions apply, a married woman seeking an abortion must sign a statement indicating that she has notified her husband; § 3203, which defines a "medical emergency" that will excuse compliance with the foregoing requirements; and §§ 3207(b), 3214(a), and 3214(f), which impose certain reporting requirements on facilities providing abortion services. Before any of the provisions took effect, the petitioners, five abortion clinics and a physician representing himself and a class of doctors who provide abortion services, brought this suit seeking a declaratory judgment that each of the provisions was unconstitutional on its face, as well as injunctive relief. The District Court held all the provisions unconstitutional and permanently enjoined their enforcement. The Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part, striking down the husband notification provision but upholding the others.

Held: The judgment in No. 91-902 is affirmed; the judgment in No. 91-744 is affirmed in part and reversed in part, and the case is remanded.

947 F.2d 682: No. 91-902, affirmed; No. 91-744, affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.

JUSTICE O'CONNOR, JUSTICE KENNEDY, and JUSTICE SOUTER delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, II, and III, concluding that consideration of the fundamental constitutional question resolved by Roe v. Wade, 410 U. S. 113, principles of institutional integrity, and the rule of stare decisis require that Roe's essential holding be re-

*Together with No. 91-902, Casey, Governor of Pennsylvania, et al. v.

Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania et al., also on certiorari to the same court.


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Syllabus

tained and reaffirmed as to each of its three parts: (1) a recognition of a woman's right to choose to have an abortion before fetal viability and to obtain it without undue interference from the State, whose previability interests are not strong enough to support an abortion prohibition or the imposition of substantial obstacles to the woman's effective right to elect the procedure; (2) a confirmation of the State's power to restrict abortions after viability, if the law contains exceptions for pregnancies endangering a woman's life or health; and (3) the principle that the State has legitimate interests from the outset of the pregnancy in protecting the health of the woman and the life of the fetus that may become a child. Pp.844-869.

(a) A reexamination of the principles that define the woman's rights and the State's authority regarding abortions is required by the doubt this Court's subsequent decisions have cast upon the meaning and reach of Roe's central holding, by the fact that THE CHIEF JUSTICE would overrule Roe, and by the necessity that state and federal courts and legislatures have adequate guidance on the subject. Pp. 844-845.

(b) Roe determined that a woman's decision to terminate her pregnancy is a "liberty" protected against state interference by the substantive component of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Neither the Bill of Rights nor the specific practices of States at the time of the Fourteenth Amendment's adoption marks the outer limits of the substantive sphere of such "liberty." Rather, the adjudication of substantive due process claims may require this Court to exercise its reasoned judgment in determining the boundaries between the individual's liberty and the demands of organized society. The Court's decisions have afforded constitutional protection to personal decisions relating to marriage, see, e. g., Loving v. Virginia, 388 U. S. 1, procreation, Skinner v. Oklahoma ex rel. Williamson, 316 U. S. 535, family relationships, Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U. S. 158, child rearing and education, Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U. S. 510, and contraception, Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U. S. 479, and have recognized the right of the individual to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child, Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 U. S. 438, 453. Roe's central holding properly invoked the reasoning and tradition of these precedents. pp. 846-853.

(c) Application of the doctrine of stare decisis confirms that Roe's essential holding should be reaffirmed. In reexamining that holding, the Court's judgment is informed by a series of prudential and pragmatic considerations designed to test the consistency of overruling the holding with the ideal of the rule of law, and to gauge the respective costs of reaffirming and overruling. Pp. 854-855.


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Full Text of Opinion

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Primary Holding

A person retains the right to have an abortion, established by Roe v. Wade, but the state’s compelling interest in protecting the life of an unborn child means that it can ban an abortion of a viable fetus under any circumstances except when the health of the mother is at risk. Also, laws restricting abortion should be evaluated under an undue burden standard rather than a strict scrutiny analysis.