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Planned Parenthood v. Casey

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Medically approved
In the back alley
Planned Parenthood v. Casey
505 U.S. 833
Decided: June 29, 1992
"Liberty finds no refuge in a jurisprudence of doubt. Yet 19 years after our holding that the Constitution protects a woman's right to terminate her pregnancy in its early stages, Roe v. Wade (1973), that definition of liberty is still questioned. Joining the respondents as amicus curiae, the United States, as it has done in five other cases in the last decade, again asks us to overrule Roe."

Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey (1992) is a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case concerning limitations on right to abortion under Roe v. Wade. While the Court upheld a women's right to abortion, it allowed the State further discretion in limiting that right. Every time this issue has come to the Supreme Court, the United States has sided with those who would make a woman's right to choose an illegal "right".


The case arose out of the Pennsylvania law Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act which enforced 5 new standards of restrictions upon women attempting to access their legal right to terminate a pregnancy, and questioned the legality of a State to be restricted by Roe v.Wade. Five primary issues of the Act were under scrutiny, above and beyond the question of the validity of Roe v.Wade:

  1. Informed consent: requiring doctors to explain the health risks of an abortion
  2. Spousal notification: requiring the spouse to be notified of a pending abortion
  3. Parental consent: requiring at least one[note 1] parent or guardian provide consent before a minor can have an abortion (with a judicial remedy if necessary)
  4. Requirement for a 24-hour waiting period before the procedure could be done
  5. Reporting requirements: imposed on the doctor of clinic undertaking the procedure (with privacy rights supposedly maintained)[note 2]

Historically, this was the first time the Court took on any abortion issue since Roe v. Wade. On the bench, there were eight Republican "conservative" appointees and one Democratic "liberal" appointee. This would be the first time a woman (Sandra Day O'Connor) would be on the bench for this issue.

Legal opinion[edit]

"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 nine-member bench fell strangely on this case, each of the five major issues being decided differently by different justices.

  • The Court upheld the basic rights outlined in Roe: O'Connor, Kennedy, Souter, Blackman, Stevens
  • The Court denied Spousal Notification, saying it violated a woman's privacy: O'Connor, Kennedy, Souter, Blackman, Stevens
  • The Court upheld Informed Consent: O'Connor, Kennedy, Souter, Rehnquist and Scalia
  • The Court upheld the 24-hour waiting period: O'Connor, Kennedy, Souter, Rehnquist and Scalia
  • The Court upheld the Parental Consent (as long as there was judicial remedy): O'Connor, Kennedy, Souter, Rehnquist and Scalia
  • The Court upheld the Notification Requirements O'Connor, Kennedy, Souter, Rehnquist and Scalia


  1. As of the date of this edit, June 11, 2011, laws that have required the consent of both parents have been struck down. However, there are several major cases working their way up the court system that might change this
  2. As with most things in the abortion matter, there is always a "however". In this case, the requirements include age, place of birth, occupation or status as high school or college student, marriage status and zip code. It would not be too hard in "Small Town Pennsylvania" to figure out who probably had an abortion from just those stats.