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In the 1973 decision Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, the United States Supreme Court declared that the zone of privacy protected under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause covered a woman’s choice to have an abortion. The Court articulated a trimester framework to balance a woman’s privacy right against the state’s interest in protecting potential human life.
But the Court revisited this framework in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992).
The State of Pennsylvania had passed a series of restrictions on abortion providers and women seeking abortions. Included among them were requirements for spousal notification, parental notification, and mandatory provision of state-published information at least 24 hours before the procedure.
Abortion providers in the state sued the governor, Robert Casey, to challenge the constitutionality of the law. The district court struck down the challenged provisions, but the appellate court reversed in part.
The Supreme Court took up the case as an opportunity to reconsider Roe. Ultimately, the Court reaffirmed Roe’s central holding that a woman had the right to an abortion before viability without undue interference from the state.
However, the Court rejected the trimester framework for its failure to give adequate consideration to the state’s legitimate interest in protecting potential life.