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4 J. Contemp. Health L. & Pol'y 1 (1988)


In Thornburgh v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Supreme Court held unconstitutional Pennsylvania statutes which required that (1) pregnant women give "informed consent" to an abortion and that they be provided information as to the characteristics of their unborn child, the nature and risks of abortion and the availability of alternatives to abortion; (2) the attending physician must file detailed reports on abortions and the reports be made available to the public for copying, even though this could lead to public identification of the woman having the abortion; (3) that in post-viability abortions, the physician use the care and techniques that would provide the best opportunity for the unborn child to be aborted alive unless . . . that technique would present a significantly greater medical risk to the life or health of the pregnant woman; and (4) a second physician be present during an abortion involving a potentially viable fetus.

The vote in Thornburgh was 5-4, with Chief Justice Burger, who had voted with the 7-2 majority in Roe v. Wade dissenting. The division of the Court in the Thornburgh vote indicates that, with further appointments or a change in view on the part of sitting Justices, the Court may well alter its view on abortion.


Originally published in Journal of Contemporary Health Law and Policy.



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