Title

The Supreme Court, Abortion, and the Jurisprudence of Class

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

11-1992

ISSN

1541-0048

Publisher

American Public Health Association

Language

en-US

Abstract

The US Supreme Court's decision in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v Casey both protects a woman's liberty to choose to terminate her pregnancy and permits the state to make it more difficult for her to exercise her choice. In their opinion on the case, Justices O'Connor, Kennedy, and Souter eloquently defend constitutional protection of the right to make intimate decisions like continuing or ending a pregnancy. At the same time, they permit the state to try to persuade pregnant women not to have abortions and to make abortion harder to obtain and more costly, as long as the state's methods do not create an "undue burden" on the decision. Any restriction on abortion is a burden; whether it is "undue" (and therefore unconstitutional) depends on one's circumstances. The Court appears to view the difference between an undue burden and mere inconvenience from the perspective of privilege. The restrictions that were upheld may not significantly affect middle-class access to abortion, but they could prove insurmountable for many less privileged women.

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