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Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey Case Brief

Summary of Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey
505 U.S. 833, 112 S.Ct. 2791, 120 L.Ed.2d. 674 (1992)

Facts:

Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act requires:

  1. a woman seeking an abortion gives her informed consent
  2. she must be provided with certain information 24 hours before the abortion
  3. a minor must get informed consent from parents
  4. a married woman must sign a statement saying that she has informed her husband
  5. the act also imposes reporting requirements on the facilities that provide abortions

The provisions are challenged.

Procedural History:

District court held all the provisions unconstitutional.  Court of Appeals sustained all of the provisions except for the husband notification requirement. 

Issue:

  1. Is it constitutional to ask a woman seeking an abortion gives her informed consent?
  2. Is it constitutional that the woman must be provided with certain information 24 hours before the abortion?
  3. Is it constitutional that a minor is required to get consent from parents?
  4. Is it constitutional that a married woman must notify her husband?
  5. Is it constitutional to require facilities to report certain statistics?

Holding:

  1. Is it constitutional to ask a woman seeking an abortion gives her informed consent?
  2. Is it constitutional that the woman must wait 24 hours before getting the abortion?
    1. Yes, constitutional. 
    2. This is not a substantial obstacle to obtaining an abortion, so there is no undue burden. 
    3. The idea that important decisions will be more informed if they follow some period of reflection doesn’t seem unreasonable. 
    4. The fact that some poor women may have a hard time getting extra time off work or finding a ride for the return trip to the clinic is troublesome, but does not constitute an undue burden. 
    5. Argument that this places barriers in the way of an abortion on demand.  But this is silly because Roe never allowed a right to abortions on demand.
  3. Is it constitutional that a minor is required to get consent from parents?
    1. Yes, constitutional.
    2. Note the difference from requiring married women to notify their husbands:  in this case, it is reasonable to assume that a child will only benefit from notifying her parents, who will always have their best interests at heart. 
    3. Its okay as long as there are adequate judicial bypass procedures in place. 
  4. Is it constitutional that a married woman must notify her husband?
    1. No, unconstitutional. 
    2. Some women in domestic violence situations could find this very burdensome
    3. Because this requirement doesn’t just make abortions a little harder or more expensive to obtain but rather is likely to prevent a lot of women from obtaining an abortion, this is an undue burden.
    4. Husband has no enforceable rights in this situation
    5. This reflects an archaic view of marriage. 
  5. Is it constitutional to require facilities to report certain statistics?
    1. Although this doesn’t relate to the state’s interest in informing the woman’s choice, it does relate to health.  Because it fulfills a purpose other than making abortions more difficult to get, its okay. 

Reasoning:

Three essential holdings of Roe:

  1. Recognition of the right of the woman to chose to have an abortion before viability and to obtain it without undue interference. 
  2. A confirmation of the state’s power to restrict abortions after viability
  3. The state has legitimate interests from the start of pregnancy in protecting the health of the mom and the potential life of the fetus from the beginning

Difference from Roe:

  • Abortion is not a fundamental right
  • Liberty interest- undue burden test (UBT)- purpose or effect placing a substantial obstacle in the path of the woman wanting an abortion prior to liability.  Then it still needs to pass the rational relationship test established after lochner, but that’s an easy test to pass.

Reasons to uphold Roe: 

  1. Precedent- must gauge the respective costs of reaffirming and overruling a prior case (ask to see if the central rule of Roe is unworkable).  In this test, no, Roe is not unworkable and thus is valid precedent
  2. Roe is sui generis- because its in its own class, unique, no subsequent cases can be seen as eroding on its main principle. 
  3. Although some facts have changed (like the point of viability), this has no validity as to Roe’s central holding.
  4. its nothing like Lochner/West Coast or Plessy/Brown in that the basic constitutional premises have not changed in a way that would affect the outcome. 
  5. **legitimacy- the courts power lies in its legitimacy, if it changes its rulings with the sway of social pressures, then its legitimacy would disappear 
  6. **when deciding a national controversy, must have a special force behind the reasoning- when deciding a case of this magnitude, there must be a rare precedential force in order to overturn it

Reasons to reject the trimester framework of Roe:

  1. In its formulation it misconceives the nature of the pregnant woman’s interest
  2. In practice it undervalues the state’s interest in potential life
  3. To promote the state’s interest in potential life, throughout pregnancy the state may take measures to ensure that the woman’s choice is informed, as long as their purpose is to persuade the woman to choose childbirth over abortion and do not place an undue burden on the righ to abortion.  

Reasons to stick with viability:

    1. Doctrine of starie decisis (we have already reaffirmed Roe several times)
    2. Viability is the time at which there is a realistic possibility of maintaining life outside the womb

Instead of the trimester framework:

      • Have a pre-viability rule and a post-viability rule
      • Pre-viability- the woman has the right to an abortion without an undue burden from the state.  Undue burden formula
      • Regulations designed to foster the health of a woman seeking an abortion are valid if they do not constitute an undue burden. 
      • An undue burden exists if its purpose or effect is to place a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion before the fetus attains viability. 
      • Note: a law doesn’t place an undue burden simply because it has the incidental effect of making it more difficult to procure an abortion.
      • Post-viability- the state can prohibit abortion

Concurring/Dissenting:

Stevens: 

      • Serious questions arise when a state attempts to persuade a woman to choose childbirth over abortion.  Thus, the informed consent requirement of the statute is unconstitutional because its used to persuade the woman not to get an abortion. 
      • 24-waiting period should be unconstitutional because there is no evidence that the delay benefits the woman or is in any way necessary for informed consent. 
        1. **a burden may be “undue” either because the burden is too severe or because it lacks a legitimate, rational justification (the 24 hour rule doesn’t meet this test)

Blackmun:

  • Roe’s strict scrutiny requirement should not be abandoned. 
  • The 24 hour requirement, parental consent and reporting statistics are invalid according to the strict scrutiny test.
  • Gender inequality questions? 

Rehnquist: dissent

  • There is no tradition that says that abortion is a fundamental right (its not in the constitution or the common law)
  • We also reject the strict scrutiny rule
  • Object to the trimester framework.
  • “A woman’s interest in having an abortion is a form of liberty protected by the DP clause but states may regulate abortion in ways rationally related to a legitimate state interest”
  • Badmouths a lot of the majority’s reasoning

Scalia: dissent

  • This “liberty” to have an abortion is not protected because the constitution says nothing about it and because the traditions of the country have always allowed it to be proscribed. 
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