City of Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health

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City of Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health
Case Title City of Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health, 462 U.S. 416 (1983)
Date 1983/06/15
Appealed No
Personal Information
Link to Ruling
Country/Jurisdiction United States
State or Province Ohio
Regulatory Bodies
Decided Yes
Arbitrator US Supreme Court
Related Laws Constitution - Amendment XIV

Short Summary

City of Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health, 462 U.S. 416 (1983), the United States Supreme Court affirmed its abortion-rights jurisprudence. In an opinion by Justice Powell, the Court struck down several provisions of an Ohio abortion law, including portions found to be unconstitutionally vague.


In City of Akron, the issue was whether several provisions of the Akron ordinance violated a woman's right to an abortion as guaranteed by the Court's decision in Roe v. Wade and the right-to-privacy doctrine as implied by the Fourteenth Amendment. In 1978 the Akron City Council enacted an ordinance which established seventeen provisions to regulate the performance of abortions. Among other things, the ordinance required: all abortions performed after the first trimester to be done in hospitals, parental consent before the procedure could be performed on an unmarried minor, doctors to counsel prospective patients, a twenty-four hour waiting period, and that fetal remains be disposed of in a "humane and sanitary manner." Some of the ordinance's provisions were invalidated by a federal district court.

The Court found that to be unconstitutional. The state has a compelling interest in regulating abortion after the first trimester, but accepted medical practice does not recommend for all second-trimester abortions to be performed in a hospital. The regulation imposed an unnecessary burden that has the effect of infringing upon the constitutional right to an abortion.

Another provision stated that a physician may not perform an abortion on an unmarried minor under 15 without obtaining either consent from one of her parents or a judicial bypass. The Court likewise struck down the provision, as the law and the Ohio courts provided no suitable mechanism for a minor to gain a judicial bypass, as the relevant laws and courts concerning juveniles did not mention abortion or establish the authority to determine the maturity or emancipation of a minor.

The statute also stated that before performing an abortion, the physician must inform the patient of the status of the pregnancy, stage of fetal development, expected date of viability, health risks of abortion, and the availability of adoption agencies and childbirth resources. The Court found the provision to be unconstitutional, as the script, ostensibly provided to ensure informed consent, was found to be geared towards influencing the patient to decide against an abortion.


The Court affirmed its commitment to protecting a woman's reproductive rights by invalidating the provisions of Akron's ordinance. Generally, Justice Powell's opinion reiterates the Court's findings in Roe and reasons that certain provisions of the ordinance violated the Constitution because they were clearly intended to direct women away from choosing the abortion option. They were not implemented out of medical necessities. The fetal disposal clause was struck down because its language was too vague to determine conduct subject to criminal prosecution.