In 1992, the Supreme Court addressed the question of whether Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision which established constitutional protection for a woman’s right to access abortion, should be overturned. Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, involved abortion restrictions that the Supreme Court had found unconstitutional under the strict scrutiny standard adopted in Roe: a requirement that a woman delay her abortion for at least 24 hours after receiving state-mandated information intended to persuade her to choose childbirth over abortion. The strict scrutiny standard is the most protective level of analysis applied by courts to determine a law’s constitutionality. Under “strict scrutiny,” a government must establish that the law is narrowly tailored to serve a compelling interest and there must not be any less restrictive means by which the government can accomplish its objectives.
In a splintered opinion, in which five Justices wrote separate opinions, no single opinion garnered majority support, but a majority voted against overturning Roe. On the equally important question of what level of constitutional protection should be afforded to abortion rights, again no single opinion received support from a majority of Justices. As a result, the Court adopted the plurality’s “undue burden” standard for determining the constitutionality of government restrictions on abortion, replacing the strict scrutiny standard adopted in Roe.
Learn more about this case in our report, “Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992): Three Judicial Views on Abortion Restrictions.”