Mazurek v. Armstrong,
520 U.S. 968 (1997)

Annotate this Case
  • Syllabus  | 
  • Case






No. 96-1104. Decided June 16, 1997

Respondents, licensed physicians and a physician assistant practicing in Montana, challenged a state law restricting the performance of abortions to licensed physicians. In denying their motion for preliminary injunction, the Federal District Court found that they had not established any likelihood of prevailing on their claim that the law imposed an undue burden under Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, 505 U. S. 833. The Ninth Circuit vacated the judgment, holding that respondents had met the Circuit's threshold requirement for a preliminary injunction by showing a fair chance of success on the merits. On remand, the District Court entered an injunction pending appeal and postponed hearing the merits of the preliminary injunction motion pending the disposition of petitioner's certiorari petition. As a consequence, the physician-only requirement is unenforceable at the present time against the only nonphysician licensed to perform abortions in Montana.

Held: The judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed. Since the physician-only requirement at issue in Casey did not pose a "substantial obstacle to a woman seeking an abortion," it was not an undue burden on the right to abortion. 505 U. S., at 884-885. This precise passage was quoted by the District Court when it concluded that there was insufficient evidence to find a substantial obstacle in Montana. The Ninth Circuit never contested that conclusion, finding instead that the law's purpose made it arguably invalid. However, there is no evidence of a vitiating legislative purpose here. The Court of Appeals' decision is also contradicted by this Court's repeated statements that the performance of abortions may be restricted to physicians. See, e. g., Roe v. Wade, 410 U. S. 113, 165. Since the Ninth Circuit's decision is clearly erroneous under this Court's precedents, and since its judgment has produced immediate consequences for Montana-in the form of an injunction against the law's implementation-and has raised a real threat of such consequences for the six other States in the Circuit that have physician-only requirements, summary reversal is appropriate.

Certiorari granted; 94 F.3d 566, reversed and remanded.



In 1995, the Montana Legislature enacted a statute restricting the performance of abortions to licensed physicians. 1995 Mont. Laws, ch. 321, § 2 (codified at Mont. Code Ann. § 50-20-109 (1995)). Similar rules exist in 40 other States in the N ation.1 The Montana law was challenged almost im-

1 See Ala. Admin. Code Rules 420-5-1-.01(2)(k), 420-5-1-.03(2)(a) (Supp. 1990) (limiting performance of abortions to "physicians duly licensed in the State of Alabama," which in turn requires meeting the criteria in Ala. Code § 34-24-70 (Supp. 1996)); Alaska Stat. Ann. §§ 08.64.200, 18.16.010(a)(1) (1996); Ark. Code Ann. § 5-61-101(a) (1993); id., § 17-95-403 (1995); Cal. Health & Safety Code Ann. § 123405 (West 1996) (as interpreted under prior statutory designation in 74 Op. Cal. Atty. Gen. 101 (1991)); Colo. Rev. Stat. § 12-36-107 (1991 and Supp. 1996); id., §§ 18-6101(1),18-6-102 (1986); Conn. Agencies Regs. § 19-13-D54(a) (1997) (limiting performance of abortions to "person[s] licensed to practice medicine and surgery in the State of Connecticut," which in turn requires meeting the criteria in Conn. Gen. Stat. §20-1O (Supp. 1997)); Del. Code Ann., Tit. 24, §§ 1720, 1790(a) (Supp. 1996); Fla. Stat. §§ 390.001(1)(a), 390.001(3) (1993); id., §§ 458.311, 459.0055 (1991 and Supp. 1997); Ga. Code Ann. § 1612-141(a) (1996); id., §43-34-27 (1994); Haw. Rev. Stat. §§453-4, 45316(a)(1) (1993); Idaho Code § 18-608 (1997); id., §§ 54-1803(3), 54-1803(4) (1994); Ill. Compo Stat., ch. 225, § 60/11 (1993); id., ch. 720, §§ 510/2(2), 510/ 3.1 (1993); Ind. Code §§ 16-18-2-202,16-18-2-282, 16-34-2-1(1)(A) (1993); id., § 25-22.5-3-1 (1995); Iowa Code § 148.3 (Supp. 1997); id., § 707.7 (Supp. 1997); Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§311.571, 311.750 (Michie 1995); La. Rev. Stat. Ann. §37:1272 (West Supp. 1997); id., §§40:1299.35.1, 40:1299.35.2(A) (West 1992); Me. Rev. Stat. Ann., Tit. 22, § 1598(3)(A) (1992); id., Tit. 32, §§ 2571, 3271 (Supp. 1996); Md. Health Code Ann. § 20-208 (1996); Md. Health Occ. Code Ann. § 14-307 (Supp. 1995); Mass. Gen. Laws, ch. 112, §§ 2, 12K, 12L, 12M (1996); Minn. Stat. §§ 145.412, subd. 1(1), 147.02 (1989) (limiting performance of abortions to licensed physicians and "physician[s] in training under the supervision of ... licensed physician[s]"); Miss. Code Ann. § 7325-3 (1995); id., § 97-3-3(1) (1994) (as interpreted in Spears V. State, 278 So. 2d 443 (Miss. 1973)); Mo. Rev. Stat. §§ 188.015(5), 188.020 (1996); id., §334.031 (1989); Neb. Rev. Stat. §28-335 (1995); id., §71-1,104 (Supp. 1996); Nev. Rev. Stat. § 442.250(1)(a) (1991); id., § 630.160 (1995); N. J. Admin. Code § 13:35-4.2(b) (1997) (limiting performance of abortions to "physician[s] licensed to practice medicine and surgery in the State of New

Full Text of Opinion

Disclaimer: Official Supreme Court case law is only found in the print version of the United States Reports. Justia case law is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or information linked to from this site. Please check official sources.