Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey
505 U.S. 833 (1992)
The Pennsylvania Abortion
Control Act, had provisions that
impeded (but didn't prevent) women from having an abortion.
There were provisions that
required doctors to provide information on health risks, that spouses and
parents had to be notified, a 24-hour waiting period, and reporting
In a class-action, a number of
abortion service providers sued, arguing that the law was an
unconstitutional violation of the right to privacy established in Roe v. Wade (410
U.S. 113 (1973)).
Pennsylvania argued that the
law didn't stop women from having an abortion, so it met constitutional
Pro-life groups stepped in
an argued that Roe should be
overturned and abortions made completely illegal.
The Trial court found for
Planned Parenthood and entered an injunction against the law.
The Appellate Court affirmed
in part and reversed in part. Everybody appealed.
The Appellate Court struck
down the spousal notification provision, but upheld the rest.
The US Supreme Court affirmed.
The US Supreme Court cited stare
decisis as the basis for their
decision. They found that the Court needed to stand by prior decisions
even if they were unpopular, unless there had been a change in the
fundamental reasoning underpinning the previous decision.
Basically, the Court found
that they shouldn't change the law just because the members of the
Supreme Court had changed. They should only change the law when society
and/or legal philosophy had changed.
For example, how Brown
v. Board of Education (347 U.S.
483 (1954)) overruled Plessy v. Ferguson (163 U.S. 537 (1896) with regards to the
'separate but equal' doctrine.
Based partially on stare
decisis, the Court upheld the
"essential holding" of Roe. They found that the
right to have an abortion is grounded in the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment.
The Court looked to Eisenstadt
v. Baird (405 U.S. 438 (1972))
which said, "if the right of privacy means anything, it is the
right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted
governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person
as the decision whether to bear or beget a child."
The Court did overrule the
standard of review established in Roe (strict scrutiny), with the lesser undue burden standard.
Undue burden is defined as one having "the purpose or
effect of placing a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking
an abortion of a nonviable fetus."
The Court did reiterate
that a State may enact regulations to further the health and safety of a
woman seeking an abortion, as long as the regulation does not impose an undue
The Court did not specify
exactly what would make something an undue burden. It is to be decided on a case-by-case
In general fundamental
rights require strict
scrutiny review. Did this decision
imply that reproductive autonomy is no longer considered a fundamental
The Court did modify the
"1st trimester" test established in Roe with a "viability" test that said
the balance tips towards the State's interest in protecting the life of
the baby occurs when the fetus is viable, not at the end of the 1st
The Court found that the
spousal notification provision was a violation of the Equal Protection
Clause of the 14th
Amendment because it only applied to married women.