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Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health

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Significance: Reaffirming the strict scrutiny approach established in 1973, the Supreme Court ruled that a city ordinance imposed unjustifiable restrictions on a woman's exercise of a fundamental constitutional right.


An ordinance of Akron, Ohio, required that all abortions after the first trimester be performed in hospitals, that abortions not be performed before a twenty-four-hour waiting period, that physicians should advise patients that “the unborn child is a human life from the moment of conception,” that parents of unmarried minors must consent for abortions to be performed, and that all fetal remains must be disposed of in a “humane and sanitary” way. By a 6-3 vote, the Supreme Court struck down all the provisions. It found that the hospital and waiting-period requirements unnecessarily increased the cost of abortions and that the information requirement was designed to persuade women not to have abortions. In addition, the disposal requirement was “impermissibly vague,” implying that a fetus had a right to a burial. The most notable aspect of Akron Center was Justice Sandra Day O’Connor's dissenting opinion, which criticized the trimester approach and argued that restrictions on abortions should be allowed unless they placed an “undue burden” on the woman's decision.