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Law School Case Brief

City of Akron v. Akron Ctr. for Reprod. Health - 462 U.S. 416, 103 S. Ct. 2481 (1983)

Rule:

The woman's fundamental right is not unqualified and must be considered against important state interests in abortion. But restrictive state regulation of the right to choose abortion, as with other fundamental rights subject to searching judicial examination, must be supported by a compelling state interest. The court has recognized two such interests that may justify state regulation of abortions. First, a state has an important and legitimate interest in protecting the potentiality of human life. Although this interest exists throughout the course of the woman's pregnancy, it becomes compelling only at viability, the point at which the fetus has the capability of meaningful life outside the mother's womb. Second, because a state has a legitimate concern with the health of women who undergo abortions, a state may properly assert important interests in safeguarding health and in maintaining medical standards. However, this health interest does not become compelling until approximately the end of the first trimester of pregnancy.

Facts:

A lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, challenging the provisions of an Akron ordinance regulating the performance of abortions. The provisions required that all abortions performed after the first trimester of pregnancy be performed in a hospital; that there be notification of and consent by parents before abortions could be performed on unmarried minors under the age of 15; that the attending physician make certain specified statements to the patient to insure that the consent for an abortion be truly informed consent; that there be a 24-hour waiting period between the time the woman signs a consent form and the time the abortion is performed; and that fetal remains be disposed of in a humane and sanitary manner. A violation of the ordinance was punishable as a criminal misdemeanor. The District Court invalidated the provisions dealing with parental notice and consent, the provision requiring the disclosure of facts concerning the woman's pregnancy, fetal development, complications of abortion, and agencies available to assist the woman, and the provision dealing with the disposal of fetal remains, but upheld the remainder of the ordinance. The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part.

Issue:

Did the Court of Appeals err in holding that certain provisions of City of Akron's abortion ordinance were unconstitutional?

Answer:

No

Conclusion:

The United States Supreme Court held that the requirement that all second trimester abortions be performed in a hospital violated the due process clause. The Court also held that the provisions dealing with parental consent, informed consent, a 24-hour waiting period, and the disposal of fetal remains were unconstitutional.

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