Hodgson v. Minnesota

Majority opinion by Justice John Paul Stevens:

The requirement that both parents be notified, whether or not both wish to be notified or have assumed responsibility for the upbringing of the child, does not reasonably further any legitimate state interest. . . .

In the ideal family setting, of course, notice to either parent would normally constitute notice to both. . . . In many families, however, the parent notified by the child would not notify the other parent. In those cases the state has no legitimate interest in questioning one parent's judgment. . .

Not only does two-parent notification fail to serve any state interest with respect to functioning families, it disserves the state interest in protecting and assisting the minor with respect to dysfunctional families. . . .

The record reveals that in the thousands of dysfunctional families affected by this statute, the two-parent notice requirement proved positively harmful to the minor and her family. . . .

The testimony at trial established that this requirement, ostensibly designed for the benefit of the minor, resulted in major trauma to the child, and often to a parent as well. In some cases, the parents were divorced and the second parent did not have custody or otherwise participate in the child's upbringing. . . . In these circumstances, the privacy of the parent and child was violated, even when they suffered no other physical or psychological harm. . . .

In virtually every state, the consent of one parent is enough to obtain a driver's license or operator's permit. The same may be said with respect to the decision to submit to any medical or surgical procedure other than an abortion. . . . Indeed, the only other Minnesota statute that the state has identified which requires two-parent consent is that authorizing the minor to change his name. . . .

Partial concurring opinion by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor:

In a series of cases, this court has explicitly approved judicial bypass as a means of tailoring a parental consent provision so as to avoid unduly burdening the minor's limited right to obtain an abortion. . . .

In {Planned Parenthood of Central Missouri v.} Danforth, the court stated that the "primary constitutional deficiency lies in {the notification statute's} imposition of an absolute limitation on the minor's right to obtain an abortion. . . . {A} materially different constitutional issue would be presented under a provision requiring parental consent or consultation in most cases but providing for prompt (i) judicial resolution of any disagreement between the parent and the minor, or (ii) judicial determination that the minor is mature enough to give an informed consent without parental concurrence or that abortion in any event is in the minor's best interest.

Such a provision would not impose parental approval as an absolute condition upon the minor's right but would assure in most instances consultation between the parent and child."

Dissenting opinion by Justice Thurgood Marshall:

I dissent from the judgment of the court . . . that the judicial bypass option renders the parental notification and 48-hour delay requirements constitutional. The bypass procedure cannot save those requirements because the bypass itself is unconstitutional both on its face and as applied. . . .

At the very least, this scheme substantially burdens a woman's right to privacy without advancing a compelling state interest. More significantly, in some instances it usurps a young woman's control over her own body by giving either a parent or a court the power effectively to veto her decision to have an abortion. . . .

I strongly disagree with the court's conclusion that the state may constitutionally force a minor woman either to notify both parents (or in some cases only one parent) and then wait 48 hours before proceeding with an abortion, or disclose her intimate affairs to a judge and ask that he grant her permission to have an abortion.

Neither the scope of a woman's privacy right nor the magnitude of a law's burden is diminished because a woman is a minor. . . . Rather, a woman's minority status affects only the nature of the state's interests. Although the court considers the burdens that the two-parent notification requirement imposes on a minor woman's exercise of her right to privacy. . . it fails to recognize that forced notification of only one parent also significantly burdens a young woman's right to have an abortion. . . . Majority opinion by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy:

The Ohio statute, in sum, does not impose an undue, or otherwise unconstitutional, burden on a minor seeking an abortion. We believe, in addition, that the legislature acted in a rational manner. . . .

Dissenting opinion by Justice Harry A. Blackmun:

The state of Ohio has acted with particular insensitivity in enacting the statute the court today upholds. Rather than create a judicial-bypass system that reflects the sensitivity necessary when dealing with a minor making this deeply intimate decision, Ohio has created a tortuous maze.