Thornburgh v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists/Opinion of the Court

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Thornburgh v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Opinion of the Court by Harry Blackmun
1124647Thornburgh v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists — Opinion of the CourtHarry Blackmun
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Justice Blackmun delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is an appeal from a judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reviewing the District Court's rulings upon a motion for a preliminary injunction. The Court of Appeals held unconstitutional several provisions of Pennsylvania's current Abortion Control Act, 1982 Pa. Laws, Act No. 138, now codified as 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3201 et seq. (1982).[1] Among the provisions ruled invalid by the Court of Appeals were portions of § 3205, relating to "informed consent"; § 3208, concerning "printed information"; §§ 3210(b) and (c), having to do with postviability abortions; and § 3211(a) and §§ 3214(a) and (h), regarding reporting requirements.[2]



The Abortion Control Act was approved by the Governor of the Commonwealth on June 11, 1982. By its own terms, however, see § 7 of the Act, it was to become effective only 180 days thereafter, that is, on the following December 8. It had been offered as an amendment to a pending bill to regulate paramilitary training.

The 1982 Act was not the Commonwealth's first attempt, after this Court's 1973 decisions in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, and Doe v. Bolton, 410 U.S. 179, to impose abortion restraints. The State's first post-1973 Abortion Control Act, 1974 Pa. Laws, Act No. 209, was passed in 1974 over the Governor's veto. After extensive litigation, various provisions of the 1974 statute were ruled unconstitutional, including those relating to spousal or parental consent, to the choice of procedure for a postviability abortion, and to the proscription of abortion advertisements. See Planned Parenthood Assn. v. Fitzpatrick, 401 F. Supp. 554 (ED Pa. 1975), summarily aff'd in part sub nom. Franklin v. Fitzgerald, 428 U.S. 901 (1976), and summarily vacated in part and remanded sub nom. Beal v. Franklin, 428 U.S. 901 (1976), modified on remand (No. 74-2440) (ED Pa. 1977), aff'd sub nom. Colautti v. Franklin, 439 U.S. 379 (1979). See also Doe v. Zimmerman, 405 F. Supp. 534 (MD Pa. 1975).

In 1978, the Pennsylvania Legislature attempted to restrict access to abortion by limiting medical-assistance funding for the procedure. 2 1978 Pa. Laws, Act No. 16A (pp. 1506-1507) and 1 1978 Pa. Laws, Act No. 148. This effort, too, was successfully challenged in federal court, Roe v. Casey, 464 F. Supp. 487 (ED Pa. 1978), and that judgment was affirmed by the Third Circuit. 623 F.2d 829 (1980).

In 1981, abortion legislation was proposed in the Pennsylvania House as an amendment to a pending Senate bill to outlaw "tough-guy competitions."[3] The suggested amendment, aimed at limiting abortions, was patterned after a model statute developed by a Chicago-based, nonprofit anti-abortion organization. See Note, Toward Constitutional Abortion Control Legislation: The Pennsylvania Approach, 87 Dick. L. Rev. 373, 382, n. 84 (1983). The bill underwent further change in the legislative process but, when passed, was vetoed by the Governor. See 737 F.2d 283, 288-289 (CA3 1984). Finally, the 1982 Act was formulated, enacted, and approved.

After the passage of the Act, but before its effective date, the present litigation was instituted in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The plaintiffs, who are the appellees here, were the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Pennsylvania Section; certain physicians licensed in Pennsylvania; clergymen; an individual who purchases from a Pennsylvania insurer health-care and disability insurance extending to abortions; and Pennsylvania abortion counselors and providers. Alleging that the Act violated the United States Constitution, the plaintiffs, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, sought declaratory and injunctive relief. The defendants named in the complaint were the Governor of the Commonwealth, other Commonwealth officials, and the District Attorney for Montgomery County, Pa.

The plaintiffs promptly filed a motion for a preliminary injunction. Forty-one affidavits accompanied the motion. The defendants, on their part, submitted what the Court of Appeals described as "an equally comprehensive opposing memorandum." 737 F.2d, at 289. The District Court then ordered the parties to submit a "stipulation of uncontested facts," as authorized by local rule. The parties produced a stipulation "solely for purposes of a determination on plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction," and "without prejudice to any party's right to controvert any facts or to prove any additional facts at any later proceeding in this action." App. 9a-10a.

Relying substantially on the opinions of the respective Courts of Appeals in Akron Center for Reproductive Health, Inc. v. City of Akron, 651 F.2d 1198 (CA6 1981), later aff'd in part and rev'd in part, 462 U.S. 416 (1983), and in Planned Parenthood Assn. of Kansas City v. Ashcroft, 655 F.2d 848 (CA8 1981), later aff'd in part and rev'd in part, 462 U.S. 476 (1983), the District Court concluded that, with one exception, see n. 1, supra, the plaintiffs had failed to establish a likelihood of success on the merits and thus were not entitled to preliminary injunctive relief. 552 F. Supp. 791 (1982).

Appellees appealed from the denial of the preliminary injunction, and appellants cross-appealed with respect to the single statutory provision as to which the District Court had allowed relief. The Third Circuit then granted appellees' motion to enjoin enforcement of the entire Act pending appeal. After expedited briefing and argument, the court withheld judgment pending the anticipated decisions by this Court in Akron, supra, Ashcroft, supra, and Simopoulos v. Commonwealth, 221 Va. 1059, 277 S.E.2d 194 (1981), all of which had been accepted for review here, had been argued, and were under submission. Those three cases were decided by this Court on June 15, 1983. See Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health, Inc., 462 U.S. 416; Planned Parenthood Assn. of Kansas City, Missouri, Inc. v. Ashcroft, 462 U.S. 476; Simopoulos v. Virginia, 462 U.S. 506. After reargument in light of those decisions, the Court of Appeals, with one judge concurring in part and dissenting in part, ruled that various provisions of the Act were unconstitutional. 737 F.2d 283 (1984). Appellants' petition for rehearing en banc was denied, with four judges voting to grant the petition. Id., at 316, 317. When a jurisdictional statement was filed here, we postponed further consideration of the question of our jurisdiction to the hearing on the merits. 471 U.S. 1014 (1985).



We are confronted initially with the question whether we have appellate jurisdiction in this case. Appellants purport to have taken their appeal to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1254(2).[4] It seems clear, and the parties appear to agree, see Brief for Appellants 21, that the judgment of the Court of Appeals was not a final judgment in the ordinary meaning of that term. The court did not hold the entire Act unconstitutional, but ruled, instead, that some provisions were invalid under Akron, Ashcroft, and Simopoulos, and that the validity of other provisions might depend on evidence adduced at the trial, see 737 F.2d, at 299-300, or on procedural rules to be promulgated by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, see id., at 296-297. It remanded these features of the case to the District Court. Id., at 304.

Slaker v. O'Connor, 278 U.S. 188, 189-190 (1929), and McLish v. Roff, 141 U.S. 661, 665-666 (1891), surely suggest that, under these circumstances, we do not have appellate jurisdiction.[5] See also South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. v. Flemming, 351 U.S. 901 (1956). Although the authority of Slaker and South Carolina Electric has been questioned, the Court to date has found it unnecessary to put the issue to rest. See Doran v. Salem Inn, Inc., 422 U.S. 922, 927 (1975); Renton v. Playtime Theatres, Inc., 475 U.S. 41, 43-44, n. 1 (1986). In some cases raising this issue of the scope of appellate jurisdiction, the Court has found any finality requirement to have been satisfied in light of the facts. See, e. g., New Orleans v. Dukes, 427 U.S. 297, 302 (1976); Chicago v. Atchison, T. & S. F. R. Co., 357 U.S. 77, 82-83 (1958). In other cases, the Court has avoided the issue by utilizing 28 U.S.C. § 2103 and granting certiorari. See, e. g., Doran, 422 U.S., at 927; El Paso v. Simmons, 379 U.S. 497, 503 (1965); see also Escambia County v. McMillan, 466 U.S. 48, 50, n. 4 (1984).

We have concluded that it is time that this undecided issue be resolved. We therefore hold, on the reasoning of McLish v. Roff, 141 U.S., at 665-668, that in a situation such as this one, where the judgment is not final, and where the case is remanded for further development of the facts, we have no appellate jurisdiction under § 1254(2).

We nevertheless treat appellants' jurisdictional statement as a petition for certiorari, grant the writ, and move on to the merits.[6]



Appellants assert that the Court of Appeals erred in holding portions of the Act unconstitutional since the scope of its review of the District Court's denial of a preliminary injunction as to those sections should have been limited to determining whether the trial court abused its discretion in finding the presence or absence of irreparable harm and a probability that the plaintiffs would succeed on the merits. Such limited review normally is appropriate, see Doran v. Salem Inn, Inc., 422 U.S., at 931-932; Brown v. Chote, 411 U.S. 452, 456-457 (1973), inasmuch as the primary purpose of a preliminary injunction is to preserve the relative positions of the parties. See University of Texas v. Camenisch, 451 U.S. 390, 395 (1981). Further, the necessity for an expeditious resolution often means that the injunction is issued on a procedure less stringent than that which prevails at the subsequent trial on the merits of the application for injunctive relief. See United States Steel Corp. v. Fraternal Assn. of Steelhaulers, 431 F.2d 1046, 1048 (CA3 1970); see also Mayo v. Lakeland Highlands Canning Co., 309 U.S. 310, 316 (1940).

This approach, however, is not inflexible. The Court on more than one occasion in this area has approved proceedings deviating from the stated norm. In Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579 (1952), the District Court had issued a preliminary injunction restraining the Secretary of Commerce from seizing the Nation's steel mills. The Court of Appeals stayed the injunction. This Court found that the case was ripe for review, despite the early stage of the litigation, and went on to address the merits. Id., at 585. And in Smith v. Vulcan Iron Works, 165 U.S. 518 (1897), the District Court issued injunctions in two patent cases and referred them to a Master for accounting. The Court of Appeals reversed. This Court ruled that the Court of Appeals had acted properly in deciding the merits since review of interlocutory appeals was designed not only to permit the defendant to obtain immediate relief but also in certain cases to save the parties the expense of further litigation. Id., at 525.

The Third Circuit's decision to address the constitutionality of the Pennsylvania Act finds further support in this Court's decisions that when the unconstitutionality of the particular state action under challenge is clear, a federal court need not abstain from addressing the constitutional issue pending state-court review. See, e. g., Bailey v. Patterson, 369 U.S. 31, 33 (1962); Turner v. City of Memphis, 369 U.S. 350, 353 (1962); Zwickler v. Koota, 389 U.S. 241, 251, n. 14 (1967). See also Singleton v. Wulff, 428 U.S. 106, 121 (1976). See generally Spann, Simple Justice, 73 Geo. L. J. 1041, 1055, n. 77 (1985).[7]

Thus, as these cases indicate, if a district court's ruling rests solely on a premise as to the applicable rule of law, and the facts are established or of no controlling relevance, that ruling may be reviewed even though the appeal is from the entry of a preliminary injunction.[8] The Court of Appeals in this case properly recognized and applied these principles when it observed:

"Thus, although this appeal arises from a ruling on a request for a preliminary injunction, we have before us an unusually complete factual and legal presentation from which to address the important constitutional issues at stake. The customary discretion accorded to a District Court's ruling on a preliminary injunction yields to our plenary scope of review as to the applicable law." 737 F.2d, at 290.

That a court of appeals ordinarily will limit its review in a case of this kind to abuse of discretion is a rule of orderly judicial administration, not a limit on judicial power. With a full record before it on the issues now before us, and with the intervening decisions in Akron, Ashcroft, and Simopoulos at hand, the Court of Appeals was justified in proceeding to plenary review of those issues.



This case, as it comes to us, concerns the constitutionality of six provisions of the Pennsylvania Act that the Court of Appeals struck down as facially invalid: § 3205 ("informed consent"); § 3208 ("printed information"); §§ 3214(a) and (h) (reporting requirements); § 3211(a) (determination of viability); § 3210(b) (degree of care required in postviability abortions); and § 3210(c) (second-physician requirement). We have no reason to address the validity of the other sections of the Act challenged in the District Court.[9]


Less than three years ago, this Court, in Akron, Ashcroft, and Simopoulos, reviewed challenges to state and municipal legislation regulating the performance of abortions. In Akron, the Court specifically reaffirmed Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973). See 462 U.S., at 420, 426-431. Again today, we reaffirm the general principles laid down in Roe and in Akron.

In the years since this Court's decision in Roe, States and municipalities have adopted a number of measures seemingly designed to prevent a woman, with the advice of her physician, from exercising her freedom of choice. Akron is but one example. But the constitutional principles that led this Court to its decisions in 1973 still provide the compelling reason for recognizing the constitutional dimensions of a woman's right to decide whether to end her pregnancy. "[I]t should go without saying that the vitality of these constitutional principles cannot be allowed to yield simply because of disagreement with them." Brown v. Board of Education, 349 U.S. 294, 300 (1955). The States are not free, under the guise of protecting maternal health or potential life, to intimidate women into continuing pregnancies. Appellants claim that the statutory provisions before us today further legitimate compelling interests of the Commonwealth. Close analysis of those provisions, however, shows that they wholly subordinate constitutional privacy interests and concerns with maternal health in an effort to deter a woman from making a decision that, with her physician, is hers to make.


We turn to the challenged statutes:

1. Section 3205 ("informed consent") and § 3208 ("printed information"). Section 3205(a) requires that the woman give her "voluntary and informed consent" to an abortion. Failure to observe the provisions of § 3205 subjects the physician to suspension or revocation of his license, and subjects any other person obligated to provide information relating to informed consent to criminal penalties. § 3205(c). A requirement that the woman give what is truly a voluntary and informed consent, as a general proposition, is, of course, proper and is surely not unconstitutional. See Planned Parenthood of Central Missouri v. Danforth, 428 U.S. 52, 67 (1976). But the State may not require the delivery of information designed "to influence the woman's informed choice between abortion or childbirth." Akron, 462 U.S., at 443-444.

Appellants refer to the Akron ordinance, Brief for Appellants 67, as did this Court in Akron itself, 462 U.S., at 445, as "a litany of information" and as "'a parade of horribles'" of dubious validity plainly designed to influence the woman's choice. They would distinguish the Akron situation, however, from the Pennsylvania one. Appellants assert that statutes "describing the general subject matter relevant to informed consent," ibid., and stating "in general terms the information to be disclosed," id., at 447, are permissible, and they further assert that the Pennsylvania statutes do no more than that.

We do not agree. We conclude that, like Akron 's ordinance, §§ 3205 and 3208 fail the Akron measurement. The two sections prescribe in detail the method for securing "informed consent." Seven explicit kinds of information must be delivered to the woman at least 24 hours before her consent is given, and five of these must be presented by the woman's physician. The five are: (a) the name of the physician who will perform the abortion, (b) the "fact that there may be detrimental physical and psychological effects which are not accurately foreseeable," (c) the "particular medical risks associated with the particular abortion procedure to be employed," (d) the probable gestational age, and (e) the "medical risks associated with carrying her child to term." The remaining two categories are (f) the "fact that medical assistance benefits may be available for prenatal care, childbirth and neonatal care," and (g) the "fact that the father is liable to assist" in the child's support, "even in instances where the father has offered to pay for the abortion." §§ 3205(a)(1) and (2). The woman also must be informed that materials printed and supplied by the Commonwealth that describe the fetus and that list agencies offering alternatives to abortion are available for her review. If she chooses to review the materials but is unable to read, the materials "shall be read to her," and any answer she seeks must be "provided her in her own language." § 3205(a)(2)(iii). She must certify in writing, prior to the abortion, that all this has been done. § 3205(a)(3). The printed materials "shall include the following statement":

"'There are many public and private agencies willing and able to help you to carry your child to term, and to assist you and your child after your child is born, whether you choose to keep your child or place her or him for adoption. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania strongly urges you to contact them before making a final decision about abortion. The law requires that your physician or his agent give you the opportunity to call agencies like these before you undergo an abortion.'" § 3208(a)(1).

The materials must describe the "probable anatomical and physiological characteristics of the unborn child at two-week gestational increments from fertilization to full term, including any relevant information on the possibility of the unborn child's survival." § 3208(a)(2).

In Akron, this Court noted: "The validity of an informed consent requirement thus rests on the State's interest in protecting the health of the pregnant woman." 462 U.S., at 443. The Court went on to state:

"This does not mean, however, that a State has unreviewable authority to decide what information a woman must be given before she chooses to have an abortion. It remains primarily the responsibility of the physician to ensure that appropriate information is conveyed to his patient, depending on her particular circumstances. Danforth 's recognition of the State's interest in ensuring that this information be given will not justify abortion regulations designed to influence the woman's informed choice between abortion or childbirth." Id., at 443-444.

The informational requirements in the Akron ordinance were invalid for two "equally decisive" reasons. Id., at 445. The first was that "much of the information required is designed not to inform the woman's consent but rather to persuade her to withhold it altogether." Id., at 444. The second was that a rigid requirement that a specific body of information be given in all cases, irrespective of the particular needs of the patient, intrudes upon the discretion of the pregnant woman's physician and thereby imposes the "undesired and uncomfortable straitjacket" with which the Court in Danforth, 428 U.S., at 67, n. 8, was concerned.

These two reasons apply with equal and controlling force to the specific and intrusive informational prescriptions of the Pennsylvania statutes. The printed materials required by §§ 3205 and 3208 seem to us to be nothing less than an outright attempt to wedge the Commonwealth's message discouraging abortion into the privacy of the informed-consent dialogue between the woman and her physician. The mandated description of fetal characteristics at 2-week intervals, no matter how objective, is plainly overinclusive. This is not medical information that is always relevant to the woman's decision, and it may serve only to confuse and punish her and to heighten her anxiety, contrary to accepted medical practice.[10] Even the listing of agencies in the printed Pennsylvania form presents serious problems; it contains names of agencies that well may be out of step with the needs of the particular woman and thus places the physician in an awkward position and infringes upon his or her professional responsibilities. Forcing the physician or counselor to present the materials and the list to the woman makes him or her in effect an agent of the State in treating the woman and places his or her imprimatur upon both the materials and the list. See Women's Medical Center of Providence, Inc. v. Roberts, 530 F. Supp. 1136, 1154 (RI 1982). All this is, or comes close to being, state medicine imposed upon the woman, not the professional medical guidance she seeks, and it officially structures--as it obviously was intended to do--the dialogue between the woman and her physician.

The requirements of §§ 3205(a)(2)(i) and (ii) that the woman be advised that medical assistance benefits may be available, and that the father is responsible for financial assistance in the support of the child similarly are poorly disguised elements of discouragement for the abortion decision. Much of this would be nonmedical information beyond the physician's area of expertise and, for many patients, would be irrelevant and inappropriate. For a patient with a life-threatening pregnancy, the "information" in its very rendition may be cruel as well as destructive of the physician-patient relationship. As any experienced social worker or other counselor knows, theoretical financial responsibility often does not equate with fulfillment. And a victim of rape should not have to hear gratuitous advice that an unidentified perpetrator is liable for support if she continues the pregnancy to term. Under the guise of informed consent, the Act requires the dissemination of information that is not relevant to such consent, and, thus, it advances no legitimate state interest.

The requirements of §§ 3205(a)(1)(ii) and (iii) that the woman be informed by the physician of "detrimental physical and psychological effects" and of all "particular medical risks" compound the problem of medical attendance, increase the patient's anxiety, and intrude upon the physician's exercise of proper professional judgment. This type of compelled information is the antithesis of informed consent. That the Commonwealth does not, and surely would not, compel similar disclosure of every possible peril of necessary surgery or of simple vaccination, reveals the anti-abortion character of the statute and its real purpose. Pennsylvania, like Akron, "has gone far beyond merely describing the general subject matter relevant to informed consent." Akron, 462 U.S., at 445. In addition, the Commonwealth would require the physician to recite its litany "regardless of whether in his judgment the information is relevant to [the patient's] personal decision." Ibid. These statutory defects cannot be saved by any facts that might be forthcoming at a subsequent hearing. Section 3205's informational requirements therefore are facially unconstitutional.[11]

Appellants assert, however, that even if this be so, the remedy is to allow the remainder of § 3205 to be severed and become effective. We rule otherwise. The radical dissection necessary for this would leave § 3205 with little resemblance to that intended by the Pennsylvania Legislature. We rejected a similar suggestion as to the ordinance in Akron, 462 U.S., at 445, n. 37, despite the presence there of a broad severability clause. We reach the same conclusion here, where no such clause is present, and reject the plea for severance. See Carter v. Carter Coal Co., 298 U.S. 238, 312-313 (1936).

2. Sections 3214(a) and (h) (reporting) and § 3211(a) (determination of viability). Section 3214(a)(8), part of the general reporting section, incorporates § 3211(a). Section 3211(a) requires the physician to report the basis for his determination "that a child is not viable." It applies only after the first trimester. The report required by §§ 3214(a) and (h) is detailed and must include, among other things, identification of the performing and referring physicians and of the facility or agency; information as to the woman's political subdivision and State of residence, age, race, marital status, and number of prior pregnancies; the date of her last menstrual period and the probable gestational age; the basis for any judgment that a medical emergency existed; the basis for any determination of nonviability; and the method of payment for the abortion. The report is to be signed by the attending physician. § 3214(b).

Despite the fact that § 3214(e)(2) provides that such reports "shall not be deemed public records," within the meaning of the Commonwealth's "Right-to-Know Law," Pa. Stat. Ann., Tit. 65, § 66.1 et seq. (Purdon 1959 and Supp. 1985), each report "shall be made available for public inspection and copying within 15 days of receipt in a form which will not lead to the disclosure of the identity of any person filing a report." Similarly, the report of complications, required by § 3214(h), "shall be open to public inspection and copying." A willful failure to file a report required under § 3214 is "unprofessional conduct" and the noncomplying physician's license "shall be subject to suspension or revocation." § 3214(i)(1).

The scope of the information required and its availability to the public belie any assertions by the Commonwealth that it is advancing any legitimate interest. In Planned Parenthood of Central Missouri v. Danforth, 428 U.S., at 80, we recognized that recordkeeping and reporting provisions "that are reasonably directed to the preservation of maternal health and that properly respect a patient's confidentiality and privacy are permissible." But the reports required under the Act before us today go well beyond the health-related interests that served to justify the Missouri reports under consideration in Danforth. Pennsylvania would require, as Missouri did not, information as to method of payment, as to the woman's personal history, and as to the bases for medical judgments. The Missouri reports were to be used "only for statistical purposes." See id., at 87. They were to be maintained in confidence, with the sole exception of public health officers. In Akron, the Court explained its holding in Danforth when it said: "The decisive factor was that the State met its burden of demonstrating that these regulations furthered important health-related state concerns." 462 U.S., at 430.

The required Pennsylvania reports, on the other hand, while claimed not to be "public," are available nonetheless to the public for copying. Moreover, there is no limitation on the use to which the Commonwealth or the public copiers may put them. The elements that proved persuasive for the ruling in Danforth are absent here. The decision to terminate a pregnancy is an intensely private one that must be protected in a way that assures anonymity. Justice Stevens, in his opinion concurring in the judgment in Bellotti v. Baird, 443 U. S. 622 (1979), aptly observed:

"It is inherent in the right to make the abortion decision that the right may be exercised without public scrutiny and in defiance of the contrary opinion of the sovereign or other third parties." Id., at 655.

A woman and her physician will necessarily be more reluctant to choose an abortion if there exists a possibility that her decision and her identity will become known publicly. Although the statute does not specifically require the reporting of the woman's name, the amount of information about her and the circumstances under which she had an abortion are so detailed that identification is likely. Identification is the obvious purpose of these extreme reporting requirements.[12] The "impermissible limits" that Danforth mentioned and that Missouri approached, see 428 U.S., at 81, have been exceeded here.

We note, as we reach this conclusion, that the Court consistently has refused to allow government to chill the exercise of constitutional rights by requiring disclosure of protected, but sometimes unpopular, activities. See, e. g., Lamont v. Postmaster General, 381 U.S. 301 (1965) (invalidating Post Office requirement that addressee affirmatively request delivery of "communist" materials in order to receive them); Talley v. California, 362 U.S. 60, 64-65 (1960) (striking down municipal ban on unsigned handbills); NAACP v. Alabama ex rel. Patterson, 357 U.S. 449, 462-465 (1958) (invalidating compelled disclosure of NAACP membership list). Pennsylvania's reporting requirements raise the specter of public exposure and harassment of women who choose to exercise their personal, intensely private, right, with their physician, to end a pregnancy. Thus, they pose an unacceptable danger of deterring the exercise of that right, and must be invalidated.

3. Section 3210(b) (degree of care for postviability abortions) and § 3210(c) (second-physician requirement when the fetus is possibly viable). Section 3210(b)[13] sets forth two independent requirements for a postviability abortion. First, it demands the exercise of that degree of care "which such person would be required to exercise in order to preserve the life and health of any unborn child intended to be born and not aborted." Second, "the abortion technique employed shall be that which would provide the best opportunity for the unborn child to be aborted alive unless," in the physician's good-faith judgment, that technique "would present a significantly greater medical risk to the life or health of the pregnant woman." An intentional, knowing, or reckless violation of this standard is a felony of the third degree, and subjects the violator to the possibility of imprisonment for not more than seven years and to a fine of not more than $15,000. See 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. §§ 1101(2) and 1103(3) (1982).

The Court of Appeals ruled that § 3210(b) was unconstitutional because it required a "trade-off" between the woman's health and fetal survival, and failed to require that maternal health be the physician's paramount consideration. 737 F.2d, at 300, citing Colautti v. Franklin, 439 U.S. 379, 397-401 (1979) (where Pennsylvania's 1974 Abortion Control Act was reviewed). In Colautti, this Court recognized the undesirability of any " `trade-off' between the woman's health and additional percentage points of fetal survival." Id., at 400.

Appellants do not take any real issue with this proposition. See Brief for Appellants 84-86. They argue instead, as did the District Court, see 552 F. Supp., at 806-807, that the statute's words "significantly greater medical risk" for the life or health of the woman do not mean some additional risk (in which case unconstitutionality apparently is conceded) but only a "meaningfully increased" risk. That interpretation, said the District Court, renders the statute constitutional. Id., at 807. The Court of Appeals disagreed, pointing out that such a reading is inconsistent with the statutory language and with the legislative intent reflected in that language; that the adverb "significantly" modifies the risk imposed on the woman; that the adverb is "patently not surplusage"; and that the language of the statute "is not susceptible to a construction that does not require the mother to bear an increased medical risk in order to save her viable fetus." 737 F.2d, at 300. We agree with the Court of Appeals and therefore find the statute to be facially invalid.[14]

Section 3210(c)[15] requires that a second physician be present during an abortion performed when viability is possible. The second physician is to "take control of the child and...provide immediate medical care for the child, taking all reasonable steps necessary, in his judgment, to preserve the child's life and health." Violation of this requirement is a felony of the third degree.

In Planned Parenthood Assn. of Kansas City, Missouri, Inc. v. Ashcroft, 462 U.S. 476 (1983), the Court, by a 5-4 vote, but not by a controlling single opinion, ruled that a Missouri statute requiring the presence of a second physician during an abortion performed after viability was constitutional. Justice Powell, joined by the Chief Justice, concluded that the State had a compelling interest in protecting the life of a viable fetus and that the second physician's presence provided assurance that the State's interest was protected more fully than with only one physician in attendance. Id., at 482-486.[16] Justice Powell recognized that, to pass constitutional muster, the statute must contain an exception for the situation where the health of the mother was endangered by delay in the arrival of the second physician. Recognizing that there was "no clearly expressed exception" on the face of the Missouri statute for the emergency situation, Justice Powell found the exception implicit in the statutory requirement that action be taken to preserve the fetus "provided it does not pose an increased risk to the life or health of the woman." Id., at 485, n. 8.

Like the Missouri statute, § 3210(c) of the Pennsylvania statute contains no express exception for an emergency situation. While the Missouri statute, in the view of Justice Powell, was worded sufficiently to imply an emergency exception, Pennsylvania's statute contains no such comforting or helpful language and evinces no intent to protect a woman whose life may be at risk. Section 3210(a)[17] provides only a defense to criminal liability for a physician who concluded, in good faith, that a fetus was nonviable "or that the abortion was necessary to preserve maternal life or health." It does not relate to the second-physician requirement and its words are not words of emergency.

It is clear that the Pennsylvania Legislature knows how to provide a medical-emergency exception when it chooses to do so. It defined "[m]edical emergency" in general terms in § 3203, and it specifically provided a medical-emergency exception with respect to informational requirements, § 3205(b); for parental consent, § 3206; for post-first-trimester hospitalization, § 3209; and for a public official's issuance of an order for an abortion without the express voluntary consent of the woman, § 3215(f). We necessarily conclude that the legislature's failure to provide a medical-emergency exception in § 3210(c) was intentional. All the factors are here for chilling the performance of a late abortion, which, more than one performed at an earlier date, perhaps tends to be under emergency conditions.



Constitutional rights do not always have easily ascertainable boundaries, and controversy over the meaning of our Nation's most majestic guarantees frequently has been turbulent. As judges, however, we are sworn to uphold the law even when its content gives rise to bitter dispute. See Cooper v. Aaron, 358 U.S. 1 (1958). We recognized at the very beginning of our opinion in Roe, 410 U.S., at 116, that abortion raises moral and spiritual questions over which honorable persons can disagree sincerely and profoundly. But those disagreements did not then and do not now relieve us of our duty to apply the Constitution faithfully.

Our cases long have recognized that the Constitution embodies a promise that a certain private sphere of individual liberty will be kept largely beyond the reach of government. See, e. g., Carey v. Population Services International, 431 U.S. 678 (1977); Moore v. East Cleveland, 431 U.S. 494 (1977); Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 U.S. 438 (1972); Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965); Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510 (1925); Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U. S. 390 (1923). See also Whalen v. Roe, 429 U.S. 589, 598-600 (1977). That promise extends to women as well as to men. Few decisions are more personal and intimate, more properly private, or more basic to individual dignity and autonomy, than a woman's decision--with the guidance of her physician and within the limits specified in Roe--whether to end her pregnancy. A woman's right to make that choice freely is fundamental. Any other result, in our view, would protect inadequately a central part of the sphere of liberty that our law guarantees equally to all.

The Court of Appeals correctly invalidated the specified provisions of Pennsylvania's 1982 Abortion Control Act. Its judgment is affirmed.

It is so ordered.


  1. . The District Court had held invalid and had enjoined preliminarily only the requirement of § 3205(a)(2) that at least 24 hours must elapse between a woman's receipt of specified information and the performance of her abortion. 552 F. Supp. 791, 797-798, 811 (ED Pa. 1982).
  2. . The Court of Appeals also held § 3215(e) invalid. That section requires health-care insurers to make available, at a lesser premium, policies expressly excluding coverage "for abortion services not necessary to avert the death of the woman or to terminate pregnancies caused by rape or incest." This ruling on § 3215(e) is not before us.
  3. . A "tough-guy competition" is a physical contact bout between persons who lack professional experience and who attempt to render each other unconscious. See Note, 87 Dick. L. Rev. 373, 382, n. 84 (1983).
  4. . Section 1254 reads in pertinent part:
  5. . Appellants ask that Slaker be overruled. See Brief for Appellants 10, 22-25.
  6. . We continue, however, to refer to the parties as appellants and appellees, respectively.
  7. . This principle finds an analogy in an established doctrine of administrative law. In SEC v. Chenery Corp., 318 U.S. 80 (1943), the Court ruled that a reviewing court could not affirm an agency on a principle the agency might not embrace. But the ruling in Chenery has not required courts to remand in futility. See Illinois v. ICC, 722 F.2d 1341, 1348-1349 (CA7 1983); see also Friendly, Chenery Revisited: Reflections on Reversal and Remand of Administrative Orders, 1969 Duke L. J. 199.
  8. . A different situation is presented, of course, when there is no disagreement as to the law, but the probability of success on the merits depends on facts that are likely to emerge at trial. See Delaware & Hudson R. Co. v. United Transportation Union, 146 U. S. App. D. C. 142, 159, 450 F.2d 603, 620, cert. denied, 403 U.S. 911 (1971). See also Airco, Inc. v. Energy Research & Development Admin., 528 F.2d 1294, 1296 (CA7 1975); California ex rel. Younger v. Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, 516 F.2d 215, 217 (CA9), cert. denied, 423 U. S. 868 (1975); Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. v. Morton, 148 U. S. App. D. C. 5, 10, 458 F.2d 827, 832 (1972); Benda v. Grand Lodge, 584 F.2d 308, 314 (CA9 1978), cert. dism'd, 441 U.S. 937 (1979); FTC v. Southwest Sunsites, Inc., 665 F. 2d 711, 717 (CA5), cert. denied, 456 U.S. 973 (1982).
  9. . Not before us are: § 3203 (definition of "abortion"); § 3205 (24-hour waiting period and physician-only counselling); §§ 3207(b) and 3214(f) (public disclosure of reports); § 3209 (requirement of hospitalization for an abortion subsequent to the first trimester); § 3210(a) (penalties for abortion after viability, and the "complete defense" thereto); § 3215(c) (proscription of use of public funds for abortion services); and § 3215(e) (compulsory availability of insurance excluding certain abortion services).
  10. . Following this Court's lead in Akron, federal courts consistently have stricken fetal-description requirements because of their inflammatory impact. See, e. g., Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts v. Bellotti, 641 F.2d 1006, 1021-1022 (CA1 1981); Charles v. Carey, 627 F.2d 772, 784 (CA7 1980); Planned Parenthood Assn. of Kansas City v. Ashcroft, 655 F.2d 848, 868 (CA8 1981); Women's Medical Center of Providence, Inc. v. Roberts, 530 F. Supp. 1136, 1152-1154 (RI 1982).
  11. . In their argument against this conclusion, appellants claim that the informational requirements must be held constitutional in the light of this Court's summary affirmance in Franklin v. Fitzpatrick, 428 U.S. 901 (1976), of the judgment in Planned Parenthood Assn. v. Fitzpatrick, 401 F. Supp. 554 (ED Pa. 1975). That litigation concerned the Commonwealth's 1974 Abortion Control Act. Its informed-consent provision, however, did not contain such plainly unconstitutional informational requests as those in the current Act, or any physician-only counselling or 24-hour waiting-period requirements. The summary affirmance also preceded the decision in Akron and, to the extent, if any at all, it might be considered to be inconsistent with Akron, the latter, of course, controls.
  12. . Appellees advise us, see Brief for Appellees 38-39, that they sought in the District Court a preliminary injunction against the requirement that the facility identification report and the quarterly statistical report be made available for public inspection and copying, and that on June 17, 1985, after full hearing, the District Court entered a preliminary injunction against the enforcement of these public-disclosure requirements. Appellees assert that the record of that hearing shows a continuous pattern of violence and harassment directed against the patients and staff of abortion clinics; that the District Court concluded that this would be increased by the public disclosure of facility names and quarterly statistical reports; and that public disclosure would impose a burden on the woman's right to an abortion by heightening her fear and anxiety, and by discouraging her physician from offering an abortion because, by so doing, he would avoid pressure from anti-abortion forces. That record, of course, is not now before us. We need place no reliance upon it and we draw no conclusion from it.
  13. . Section 3210(b) reads:
  14. . This makes it unnecessary for us to consider appellees' further argument that § 3210(b) is void for vagueness.
  15. . Section 3210(c) reads:
  16. . Justice O'Connor, joined by Justice White and Rehnquist, stated somewhat categorically that the second-physician requirement was constitutional. 462 U.S., at 505.
  17. . Section 3210(a) reads:

"Any person who intentionally, knowingly or recklessly performs or induces an abortion when the fetus is viable commits a felony of the third degree. It shall be a complete defense to any charge brought against a physician for violating the requirements of this section that he had concluded in good faith, in his best medical judgment, that the unborn child was not viable at the time the abortion was performed or induced or that the abortion was necessary to preserve maternal life or health."