Sunday, December 8, 2013

Lifchez v. Hartigan case brief

Lifchez v. Hartigan case brief summary
Court opinions for Lifchez v. Hartigan

v. Hartigan, 735 F. Supp. 1361 - 1990
- ‎Dist. Court, ND Illinois
 735 F. Supp. 1361 (1990)

Plaintiff physician, representing a class of physicians specializing in reproductive endocrinology and fertility counseling, sought summary judgment in his action against defendants, state attorney general and county state's attorney, that challenged the constitutionality of a provision of the Illinois Abortion Law, Ill. Rev. Stat., ch. 38, para. 81-26, § 6(7) (1989), and sought an injunction against its enforcement.


  • The court found that § 6(7) of the Illinois Abortion Law violated the Constitution in two ways: 
  • (1) it offended the Fourteenth Amendment principles of due process by being so vague that persons such as the physician could not know whether or not their medical practice might run afoul of the statute's criminal sanctions; and 
  • (2) the statute impinged upon a woman's right of privacy and reproductive freedom. 
  • The court held that the Illinois legislature's failure to define the terms "experimentation" and "therapeutic" rendered the statute vague, thus violating the physician's due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. 
  • The Illinois legislature's failure to those terms meant that persons of common intelligence would be forced to guess at whether or not their conduct was unlawful. 
  • The court noted that there was no single accepted definition of "experimentation" in the scientific and medical communities. 
  • The court further held that § 6(7) was unconstitutional because it impermissibly restricted a woman's fundamental right of privacy, in particular, her right to make reproductive choices free of governmental interference with those choices.
The court granted summary judgment to the physician and permanently enjoined the state attorney general and the county state's attorney from enforcing the provision.

Also see: Abortion legal definition -

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