Hodgson v. State of Minnesota

853 F.2d 1452
[companion case to Ohio v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health Inc.], 497 U.S. 502

Brief(s) Filed: 3/87 (App. Ct. 8 Dist.); 9/89 (U.S. S.Ct.)
Court: U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth District & Supreme Court of the United States
Year(s) of Decision(s): 1988; 1990

Read the full-text amicus brief (PDF, 317KB)

Issue

Whether a Minnesota statute requiring physicians to notify the parents of all unemancipated minors under the age of 18 at least 48 hours before performing an abortion was unconstitutional

Index Topic

Abortion (parental notification)

Facts

Minnesota passed a statute requiring physicians to notify both parents of all unemancipated minors under the age of 18 at least 48 hours before performing an abortion unless certain requirements were met. The statute provided an alternative "bypass" provision also requiring parental notification absent certain different requirements being met in the event that enforcement of the first provision was enjoined by a court. A group of doctors, clinics, pregnant minors and the mother of one pregnant minor filed suit alleging that the Minnesota statute violated the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. The district court declared the statute unconstitutional in its entirety and enjoined its enforcement. A panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's opinion. The State's petition for a rehearing, en banc, was granted. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, en banc, reversed and the case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

APA's Position

APA's brief argued that: (1) compelling disclosure to her parents of a minor's pregnancy and decision to have an abortion (a) imposes a substantial burden on the minor's right to choose, (b) most directly affects those adolescents who — for a variety of compelling reasons — believe they cannot consult with their parents about the abortion decision, and (c) unduly burdens their right to obtain an abortion; (2) an arbitrary and inflexible waiting period — whether 24 or 48 hours — places greater burdens on adolescents than it does on adults; (3) the substantial burdens imposed by compelled notification and waiting period provisions are unconstitutional; (4) the evidence suggests that mandatory parental notification statutes do not foster productive intrafamily communication and there is no empirical support for the proposition that compelled parental disclosure will help ensure that the minor's decision to obtain an abortion is a capable one; (5) research and psychological theory about cognitive, social and moral development strongly supports the conclusion that most adolescents are competent to make informed decisions about life situations and do not support the state's assumption that adolescents typically lack the capacity to make sound health care decisions, including decisions about abortion; (6) there is no empirical support for the proposition that mandatory parental disclosure will assist minors in dealing with the psychological sequelae of abortion; (7) adolescents who choose to abort are not less stable psychologically than other adolescents; and (8) much of the stress pregnant adolescents experience is due to unwanted pregnancy, not to abortion.

Results

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the two-parent notification requirement. The majority cited the APA brief for the proposition that one-parent families are common and state law often allows a minor parent to consent to health care for her child. Justice O'Connor cited Justice Stevens's opinion relying on APA to explain her vote. Additionally, Justice Marshall's dissenting opinion essentially adopted APA's brief in its entirety (without citation).