1 minute read

Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health


Akron Center for Reproductive Health, in which Justice O'Connor wrote her first major abortion opinion, a dissent, indicated that the future of abortion rights was in doubt--in part because O'Connor seemed to be emerging as a swing vote in the heated abortion debate. Although she did not indicate a desire to outlaw abortion altogether, she made it clear that she had objections to Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision establishing a woman's right to abortion.

In 1973, in Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the constitutional right to privacy included a woman's right to abortion. The decision proved to be highly contentious, and many states and municipalities attempted to devise methods of restricting access to abortion--focusing particularly on the second trimester of pregnancy, during which the Supreme Court permitted some regulation of abortion if needed to protect the mother's health.

In 1978, the city of Akron, Ohio, passed an ordinance requiring that all abortions performed in the second trimester of pregnancy be performed in a hospital, rather than a clinic. The regulations also required that parents give consent before abortions could be performed on unmarried minors under the age of 15. They also required that the attending physician insure that the patient give her fully informed consent to the procedure, that there be a 24-hour waiting period between the time a consent form is signed and the time the abortion is performed, and that the fetal remains be disposed of in a humane and sanitary manner.

In 1978, the Akron Center for Reproductive Health, an abortion clinic sued in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, challenging the constitutionality of the Akron provisions. After the district court invalidated some parts of the ordinance while upholding others, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed parts of this decision, while reversing other aspects of the lower court's ruling. This rather chaotic result gave rise to three petitions for certiorari, or review, to the Supreme Court, which granted two: Akron's and the abortion clinic's.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1981 to 1988Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health - Significance, Right To Abortion Upheld, But Imperiled, Abortion Statistics, Further Readings