Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health Inc.

462 U.S. 416
Brief Filed: 8/82
Court: Supreme Court of the United States
Year of Decision: 1983

Read the full-text amicus brief (PDF, 333KB)

Issue

Whether the City of Akron's adoption of an informed consent requirement for abortions, which mandated that the individual providing pre-abortion counseling must be the woman's attending physician (as opposed to other qualified professionals) and specified the kind and substance of the information to be presented, was constitutional

Index Topic

Abortion (mandated pre-abortion counseling)

Facts

Akron (Ohio) passed an ordinance providing, in part, that: (1) all second trimester abortions be performed in a hospital rather than an outpatient setting; (2) all pre-abortion counseling be conducted by physicians to ensure informed consent; (3) parents of unmarried minors be informed of, and consent to, their child's abortion; (4) all fetal remains be disposed of in a humane and sanitary manner; and (5) there be a 24-hour waiting period between the time the woman signs a consent form and the time the abortion is performed. The Court of Appeals upheld portions of the law and struck down others and certiorari was granted.

APA's Position

APA submitted a brief arguing the Akron ordinance mandating physician-conducted pre-abortion counseling was unconstitutional because: (1) counseling should be provided by a professional trained in providing counseling and should be tailored to the individual needs of the client (the ordinance mandated the content of the pre-abortion counseling); and (2) the ordinance prevented effective counseling, interfered with professional judgment, and imposed an undue burden on a woman's right to obtain an abortion.

Results

The U.S. Supreme Court held that the provisions dealing with performance of second-trimester abortions in a hospital, parental consent, informed consent, a 24-hour waiting period, and the disposal of fetal remains were unconstitutional and invalid. Despite reaffirming that a state's interest in health regulation becomes compelling at approximately the end of the first trimester, the Court found that the five invalidated provisions "unjustifiably placed a significant obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion," and constituted an attempt to persuade against abortion. Additionally, the Court held that not all minors are necessarily incompetent to make their own abortion decisions and that it was unreasonable for a state to insist that only a physician is competent to provide informed consent information and counseling relevant to informed consent.