Thursday, November 14, 2013

Bellotti v. Baird case brief

Bellotti v. Baird case brief summary
443 U.S. 622 (1979)

In an action brought by appellee physician, the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts held unconstitutional Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 112, § 12S. On remand, the district court certified several questions to the state supreme court before again declaring that the statute requiring parental consent for abortions was unconstitutional. The state appealed.

Passage of Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 112, § 12S, which required minors to get parental consent for an abortion, prompted a constitutional challenge by a physician and others. The district court concluded that the statute was unconstitutional, and it reached the same conclusion on remand.


  • On further appeal, the court affirmed, holding that because the consequences of denying a minor the right to make a decision regarding her pregnancy were grave, it was inappropriate to give a third-party absolute veto power over the decision. 
  • A restrictive statute such as § 12S would have to provide an alternative procedure to obtain consent for an abortion. 
  • Therefore, statutory provisions of § 12S that prohibited minors from obtaining judicial consent for an abortion without parental consultation and required parental notice of judicial proceedings brought by a minor to obtain an abortion imposed an undue burden upon the minor's right to seek an abortion. 
  • Additionally, a provision that allowed a judge to withhold consent from a minor deemed capable of making an informed and reasonable decision to have an abortion was unconstitutional.

The court affirmed the district court's judgment invalidating the abortion statute.

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