Planned Parenthood v. Danforth
Argued March 23, 1976
Decided July 1, 1976
Full case namePlanned Parenthood of Central Missouri, et al. v. John C. Danforth, et al.
Citations428 U.S. 52 (more)
96 S. Ct. 2831; 49 L. Ed. 2d 788; 1976 U.S. LEXIS 13
Case history
Prior392 F. Supp. 1362 (E.D. Mo. 1975); probable jurisdiction noted, 423 U.S. 819 (1975).
Court membership
Chief Justice
Warren E. Burger
Associate Justices
William J. Brennan Jr. · Potter Stewart
Byron White · Thurgood Marshall
Harry Blackmun · Lewis F. Powell Jr.
William Rehnquist · John P. Stevens
Case opinions
MajorityBlackmun, joined by Brennan, Stewart, Marshall, and Powell; Stevens (in all but Parts IV-D and IV-E); and Burger, White, and Rehnquist (in all but Parts IV-C, IV-D, IV-E, and IV-G)
ConcurrenceStewart, joined by Powell
Concur/dissentWhite, joined by Burger, Rehnquist
Superseded by
Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization (2022)

Planned Parenthood of Central Missouri v. Danforth v. Danforth, 428 U.S. 52 (1976), is a United States Supreme Court case on abortion.[1] The plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of a Missouri statute regulating abortion. The Court upheld the right to have an abortion, declaring unconstitutional the statute's requirement of prior written consent from a parent (in the case of a minor) or a spouse (in the case of a married woman).[2]

Background of the case

The District Court's ruling

The plaintiffs brought suit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, seeking injunctive relief.[3] Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2281, the court convened a three-judge panel to try the case. The panel consisted of Eighth Circuit Judge William Hedgcock Webster, District Judge Harris Kenneth Wangelin, and Senior District Judge Roy Winfield Harper. The court held that Section 6(1) of the challenged act, which "prescribe[d] the standard of care which a person performing an abortion must exercise for the protection of the fetus" was unconstitutionally overbroad. It upheld the rest of the challenged act. Judge Webster concurred with the panel majority in finding 6(1) overboard and upholding "the constitutional validity of Section 2(2)[1] (defining "viability"), Section 3(2) (requiring the woman's written consent to an abortion), Section 10 (maintenance of records) and Section 11 (retention of records)." He dissented from the majority opinion with respect to four other provisions: 3(3) (spousal consent requirement), 3(4) (parental consent requirement), 7 (termination of parental rights if child is born alive), and 9 (prohibition of saline amniocentesis method of abortion). Planned Parenthood of Central Missouri v. Danforth, 392 F.Supp. 1362, 1365 (E.D. Missouri 1975).

The Court's opinions

The majority opinion

The court struck down the provisions of the statute that required spousal and parental consent to obtain an abortion. The court upheld the statute's recordkeeping requirement for abortion facilities and physicians that perform abortions.

In addressing the issue of spousal consent, the Court upheld the lower court's decision that just as the state could not regulate or proscribe abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy nor could the state "delegate to a spouse veto power."

See also


  1. ^ Planned Parenthood of Central Missouri v. Danforth, 428 U.S. 52 (1976).
  2. ^ Young, Julia L. (1977). "Constitutional Law: Elimination of Spousal and Parental Consent Requirements for Abortion". Washburn Law Journal. 16 (2): 463–464. PMID 11664766. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  3. ^ Planned Parenthood of Central Missouri v. Danforth, 392 F. Supp. 1362 (E.D. Mo. 1975).

Further reading