City of Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health
|City of Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health|
|Argued November 30, 1982
Decided June 15, 1983
|Full case name||City of Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health, et al.|
|Citations||462 U.S. 416 (more)
103 S.Ct. 2481
|Prior history||Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals|
|The city of Akron, Ohio's then-current abortion law, whose provisions included a 24-hour waiting period and the requirement that a doctor inform the patient of the stage of fetal development, the supposed health risks of abortion, and the availability of adoption and childbirth resources, was unconstitutional.|
|Majority||Powell, joined by Burger, Brennan, Marshall, Blackmun, Stevens|
|Dissent||O'Connor, joined by White, Rehnquist|
|U.S. Const. amend. XIV|
|Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992)|
City of Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health, 462 U.S. 416 (1983), was a case in which the United States Supreme Court affirmed its abortion rights jurisprudence. The case struck down several provisions of an Ohio abortion law.
Provisions of the law and decision regarding them
In an opinion by Justice Powell, the Court struck down each of the challenged provisions.
One provision of the Akron statute required that abortions after the first trimester be performed in a hospital. The Court found this unconstitutional, because while the state has a compelling interest in regulating abortion after the first trimester, accepted medical practice does not recommend that all second-trimester abortions be performed in a hospital. The regulation imposed an unnecessary burden that has the effect of infringing upon the constitutional right to an abortion.
Prohibition on unmarried minors
Another provision stated that a physician may not perform an abortion on an unmarried minor under 15 without obtaining either consent from one of her parents or a judicial bypass. The Court likewise struck down this provision, as the law and the Ohio courts provided no suitable mechanism for a minor to gain a judicial bypass, as the relevant laws and courts concerning juveniles did not mention abortion or establish the authority to determine the maturity or emancipation of a minor.
The Akron statute also required that before performing an abortion, the physician must inform the patient of the status of the pregnancy, stage of fetal development, expected date of viability, health risks of abortion, and availability of adoption agencies and childbirth resources. The Court found this provision unconstitutional, as the script, ostensibly provided to ensure informed consent, was found to be geared towards influencing the patient to choose not to have an abortion. The state may not attempt to influence the patient's choice between abortion and childbirth. The Ohio regulation extends the state's interest in informed consent beyond permissible limits, interfering with the discretion of the physician and placing unreasonable obstacles in his path.
- The requirement that doctors tell patients that the fetus is "a human life from the moment of conception" also violates the provision in Roe v. Wade that "a State may not adopt one theory of when life begins to justify its regulation of abortions."
- The detailed description of the fetus that doctors are required to provide is speculative.
- The list of risks of abortion that the doctor is required to provide is "intended to suggest that abortion is a particularly dangerous procedure" and also overrides the physician's judgment, as he must tell his patient specific risks even if they are not present for that patient.
24-hour waiting period
Another provision mandated a 24-hour waiting period is imposed after the patient signs a consent form. The Court struck this down, as no state interest is served by the imposition of an "arbitrary and inflexible" waiting period.
The final challenged provision stated that physicians had to ensure that fetal remains are disposed of in a "humane and sanitary manner." The majority deemed this unconstitutional because criminal sanctions are imposed upon doctors who break this law, "humane" is unconstitutionally vague and a violation of due process. Rather than strike down "humane" and preserve "sanitary," the Court struck down the entire provision.
In her dissenting opinion, Justice O'Connor (joined by Justices White and Rehnquist), urged that "the 'unduly burdensome' standard" from two prior cases, Maher v. Roe (1977) and Bellotti v. Baird (1979) "be applied to the challenged regulations throughout the entire pregnancy without reference to the particular 'stage' of pregnancy involved." The "undue burden" test was later to gain acceptance by a plurality of the Court in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), which replaced the earlier "strict scrutiny" standard of review of abortion regulations with the lesser "undue burden" standard, a standard which remains in effect.
City of Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health was overruled by the plurality in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992).
- Maher v. Roe, 432 U. S. 464 (1977) - US Supreme Court Cases from Justia & Oyez
- "The undue burden standard is binding on lower courts, see Marks v. United States, 430 U.S. 188, 193 (1977) (defining the holding of a divided Court as the view of the members of the Court who concurred on the narrowest grounds), although for stare decisis purposes, only the portion of the three-Justice opinion that garnered five votes counts as a full-fledged precedent in the Supreme Court itself." Michael C. Dorf, INCIDENTAL BURDENS ON FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS, 109 Harv. L. Rev. 1175 at Note 197.