Planned Parenthood Sues to Overturn Montana Parental Consent Requirement

Montana’s parental consent law, enacted in 2011, requires minors to obtain parental permission prior to undergoing an abortion procedure.  The law would replace a parental notification requirement for girls under 16.

This is relatively well-traveled territory, and parental consent laws tend to be held constitutional.  In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court addressed a similar law in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992):

We next consider the parental consent provision. Except in a medical emergency, an unemancipated young woman under 18 may not obtain an abortion unless she and one of her parents (or guardian) provides informed consent as defined above. If neither a parent nor a guardian provides consent, a court may authorize the performance of an abortion upon a determination that the young woman is mature and capable of giving informed consent and has in fact given her informed consent, or that an abortion would be in her best interests.

We have been over most of this ground before. Our cases establish, and we reaffirm today, that a State may require a minor seeking an abortion to obtain the consent of a parent or guardian, provided that there is an adequate judicial bypass procedure. See, e. g., Akron II, 497 U. S., at 510-519; Hodgson, 497 U. S., at 461 (O’Connor, J., concurring in part and concurring in judgment in part); id., at 497-501 (Kennedy, J., concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part); Akron I, 462 U. S., at 440; Bellotti II, 443 U. S., at 643-644 (plurality opinion). Under these precedents, in our view, the one-parent consent requirement and judicial bypass procedure are constitutional.

The only argument made by petitioners respecting this provision and to which our prior decisions do not speak is the contention that the parental consent requirement is invalid because it requires informed parental consent. For the most part, petitioners’ argument is a reprise of their argument with respect to the informed consent requirement in general, and we reject it for the reasons given above. Indeed, some of the provisions regarding informed consent have particular force with respect to minors: the waiting period, for example, may provide the parent or parents of a pregnant young woman the opportunity to consult with her in private, and to discuss the consequences of her decision in 900*900 the context of the values and moral or religious principles of their family. See Hodgson, supra, at 448-449 (opinion of Stevens, J.).

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