This Friday, June 29, marks the 20th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey.
I first learned about the Supreme Court decision of Planned Parenthood v. Casey about 10 years ago. I was sitting in a constitutional law class in a suburban university. It was my first introduction to abortion access restrictions whose names are now commonplace to me: mandatory counseling sessions, 24-hour waiting periods, parental consent, spousal notification, and reporting requirements.
Basically, the facts of the case look like this. In 1989, Pennsylvania amended its Abortion Control Act to require:
- the person undergoing the abortion to give informed consent and receive mandatory counseling, including alternatives to abortion.
- a 24-hour waiting period between the counseling appointment and the procedure itself.
- parental consent for minors, with available judicial bypass.
- a spousal notification requirement.
- reporting requirements for providers.
Geography, relationships, and other life realities are perfectly capable of creating their own “undue burdens.”
The state’s Planned Parenthood association challenged the statute and — fast forwarding a bunch — the case eventually ended up in the U.S. Supreme Court. In a 5-4 decision, the Court held that the standard for whether a state could enact a restriction to abortion access was whether that restriction placed an “undue burden” on the person seeking the abortion. A burden would be considered undue “if its purpose or effect is to place substantial obstacles in the path of a woman seeking an abortion before the fetus attains viability.”
Of the restrictions enumerated in Pennsylvania’s Abortion Control Act, the Court considered only the spousal notification requirement an undue burden. Continue reading