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Planned Parenthood v. Casey

Citation. 505 U.S. 833 (1992)
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Brief Fact Summary.

The Pennsylvania’s abortion law states that no physician shall perform an abortion on a married woman without receiving a signed statement from the woman that she has notified her spouse that she is about to undergo an abortion. The petitioner challenged the law.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Subsequent to vitality, the State in promoting its interest in the potentiality of human life may, if it chooses, regulate, and even proscribe, abortion except where it is necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health of the mother.


The Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act of 1982 requires that a woman seeking an abortion give her informed consent prior to the abortion procedure, and specifies that she be provided with certain information at least 24 hours before the abortion is performed. For a minor to obtain an abortion, the Act requires the informed consent of one of her parents, but provides for a judicial bypass option if the minor does not wish to or cannot obtain a parent’s consent. The Act also requires that a married woman seeking an abortion must sign a statement indicating that she has notified her husband of her intended abortion. The Act exempts compliance with these requirements in the event of a medical emergency. The Act imposes certain reporting requirements on facilities that provide abortion services.


Can the States require women to provide a signed statement that she has notified her spouse that she is about to undergo an abortion to physicians to obtain an abortion?


No. The States may not enact a law requiring women to provide a signed statement that she has notified her spouse that she is about to undergo an abortion to physicians to obtain an abortion and thus, the state statute is invalid. The Constitution protects all individuals, male or female, from the abuse of governmental power, when where that power is employed for the supposed benefit of a member of the individual’s family.


Justice Scalia

A States choice between two positions on which reasonable people can disagree is constitutional even when it intrudes upon a liberty in the absolute sense. That is, quite simply, the issue in these cases: not whether the power of a woman at abort her unborn child is a liberty in the absolute sense; or even whether it is a liberty of great importance to many women. It is both. It is not a liberty protected by the Constitution, because the Constitution says absolutely nothing about it and the longstanding traditions of American society have permitted it to be legally proscribed.


As with any medical procedure, the State may enact regulations to further the health or safety of a woman seeking an abortion. Unnecessary health regulations that have the purpose or effect of presenting a substantial obstacle to a woman seeking an abortion impose an undue burden on the right. Every facility which performs abortions is required to file a report stating its name and address as well as the name and address of any related entity, such as a controlling or subsidiary organization. In the case of state-funded institutions, the information becomes a public. Recordkeeping and reporting provisions that are reasonably directed to the preservation of maternal health and that properly respect a patient’s confidentiality and privacy are permissible. Under this standard, all the provisions at issue are constitutional. Though they do not relate to the State’s interest in informing the woman’s choice, they do relate to health.

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