1979 July 2

Supreme Court: No Parental Consent Needed for Abortion


The Supreme Court ruled on this day, in Bellotti v. Baird, that teenagers were not required to obtain parental consent for an abortion. The decision, however, left questions about the extent of the rights of minors on decisions regarding abortion. In June 1990, in Minnesota v. Hodgson, the Court invalidated a Minnesota requirement that minors obtain the consent of both parents, but approved the constitutionality of a judicial “by-pass” by which a minor, in certain circumstances, could obtain judicial approval for an abortion rather than parental consent. (See the link below for the current state of the law and policy on this issue.)

The case decided on this day was one of two Supreme Court decisions on reproductive rights involving activist Bill Baird. See Eisenstadt v. Baird, decided on March 22, 1972.

The Court: “We conclude, therefore, that under state regulation such as that undertaken by Massachusetts, every minor must have the opportunity – if she so desires – to go directly to a court without first consulting or notifying her parents. If she satisfies the court that she is mature and well enough informed to make intelligently the abortion decision on her own, the court must authorize her to act without parental consultation or consent. If she fails to satisfy the court that she is competent to make this decision independently, she must be permitted to show that an abortion nevertheless would be in her best interests. If the court is persuaded that it is, the court must authorize the abortion. If, however, the court is not persuaded by the minor that she is mature or that the abortion would be in her best interests, it may decline to sanction the operation.”

Learn more about current parental consent laws: http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/abortion/parental-consent-notification-laws-25268.htm

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