Hartigan v. Zbaraz

481 U.S. 1008
Brief Filed: 2/87
Court: Supreme Court of the United States
Year of Decision: 1987

Read the full-text amicus brief (PDF, 543KB)


Whether the Illinois Parental Notice Abortion Act which required a physician to give 24-hour notice to both parents of a minor was unconstitutional

Index Topic

Abortion (parental notification)


The Illinois Parental Notice Abortion Act required that minors wait a 24-hour waiting period after parental notification of both parents prior to obtaining abortion. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit struck down the Act as an unconstitutional burden on minors' rights to an abortion. The Seventh Circuit also enjoined enforcement of the remaining provisions of the Act until the Illinois Supreme Court promulgated rules assuring the expeditious and confidential disposition of minors' applications to the court for judicial waiver of the parental notice requirement. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review the Seventh Circuit's decision. The issue before the Supreme Court was whether mandatory waiting periods between actual notice and the abortion procedure are constitutional as applied to minors.

APA's Position

APA submitted a brief arguing that: (1) the legislative presumptions used by the state to support restrictive provisions affecting minors' access to abortions fail to acknowledge the complexity of prior decisions of the Court; (2) research and psychological theory about cognitive, social and moral development support the position that older adolescents and many younger adolescents are as able as adults to make competent decisions regarding abortion; (3) there is no support for the state's presumption that adolescents are more psychologically vulnerable than adults, adolescence is not a particularly difficult stage of development, and much of the stress pregnant adolescents experience is due to unwanted pregnancy, not to abortion itself; (4) a great many young minors and many older minors voluntarily inform their parents of the desire to have an abortion; (5) the state's mandatory notice and waiting period serve no legitimate state interests and may actually be harmful to the ostensible goals of the act in that (a) they are unlikely to result in positive communication or better reasoned decisionmaking, (b) may be harmful to adolescents who cannot or will not use the judicial bypass procedure, and (c) place greater burdens on adolescents than on adults; and (5) the parental notice and waiting period provisions are unconstitutional.


The U.S. Supreme Court found that jurisdiction was lacking and did not issue a decision on the merits.