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Study Notes

Planned Parenthood v Casey 1992

A Level
AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB

This Supreme Court case reaffirmed the right to an abortion found in Roe v Wade 1973, and ruled on of the requirements of Pennsylvania abortion requirements as unconstitutional. 


Background to the Case:

Under the Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act 1982 there were five provisions that women must have gone through before an abortion could be carried out. They were as follows:

· Informed Consent – Doctors must provide information about the health effects of abortions

· Spousal Notice – Women must have a signed notification from her husband

· Parental Consent – Minors must have informed consent of at least one parent

· Medical Emergency

· Reporting Requirements – Abortion clinics must keep records and report them

Planned Parenthood challenged the constitutionality of the requirements that the Act set out as they were a barrier to the right to have an abortion as established in Roe v Wade. It was the first major test case for overturning Roe v Wade.

When this was challenged in lower courts, the District Court found all provisions to be unconstitutional and suspended the provisions from taking place. However, when it went to the Court of Appeals, they ruled that the provisions were constitutional except for the Spousal Notice requirement.

The Case:

The case reached the Supreme Court in April 1992 and was decided in June 1992. In the decision, the Court reaffirmed the principles from Roe v Wade, namely the right to have an abortion. However, whilst the Court upheld four of the provisions within Pennsylvania State law, only ruling that the Spousal Notice requirement was unconstitutional under the right to privacy.

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