Key Facts– The Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act regulated abortion by requiring women to give informed consent, be provided with certain information 24 hours prior, and notify her spouse, if she were married.
Issue– Are these conditions on abortion rights constitutional?
Holding– Yes regarding the first two conditions; no regarding spousal notification
Result– Law partially stricken.
Reasoning– The Court here rejects Roe’s trimester framework, because it undervalues the state interest in prenatal life, and it is not a necessary (or even particularly well-founded) perspective on prenatal life. The Court says only laws that create an “undue burden” on the right to choose should be struck down. However, people’s rights cannot change when they’re married, and the requirement to inform the spouse is therefore an undue burden.
Key Facts– In the 19th Century and into the 20th, many American states adopted and enforced laws restricting or prohibiting abortion. These laws are ultimately considered in their totality by the court here, though the case that specifically gives rise to this decision is an abortion case coming out of Texas.
Issues– Can the states prohibit abortion? If not, can they restrict or regulate it? If they cannot prohibit it, but can restrict or regulate it, what’s the limit?
Holding– No. Yes. The limit is based on weighing the state’s interest in regulation against the privacy right.
Result– Right to abortion established.
Reasoning– An overview of world history shows that abortion has not been a universally reviled phenomenon. In the common law, the history until the 19th Century only shows sanctions for abortion that applied after “quickening,” or first fetal movement. The state has an interest in abortion for safety reasons and for the preservation of pre-natal life, both of which are significant. However, the right of personal privacy includes the abortion decision, and this must be weighed against the state interest.
Key Facts– Massachusetts convicted Baird for distributing contraceptives to people not married, and without being a pharmacist or doctor.
Issue– Is Massachusetts’ distinction between married and unmarried couples based on rational grounds?
Result– Law struck down
Reasoning– The law cannot be intended to deter premarital sex, because that would make fornication punishable by pregnancy, and also because this would have barely any effect on the desired goal. Also, the right to contraceptive access must be the same for married and unmarried people. The right to privacy belongs to everyone.