A new law requiring doctors to tell women that medication-induced abortions can be reversed -- a premise most of the health care community refutes -- could be in violation of the First Amendment, experts say.
The U.S. Supreme Court in 1992, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, ruled that, in the interest of informed consent, it was constitutionally permissible for states to compel physicians to provide women with truthful information that may encourage them to reconsider a decision to have an abortion. Based on the ruling, 35 states mandate counseling. Twenty-seven detail exactly what doctors must say.
The Pennsylvania law examined in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, however, stipulated that women be informed about fetal development, alternatives to abortion, and the risks of pregnancy. In recent years, the types of things legislators are asking doctors to tell women have changed, says Elizabeth Nash, a policy analyst at the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice think tank based in New York. "Now, more and more, we're seeing unsubstantiated science," Nash says.
Some in the medical community see these laws as far enough removed from Planned Parenthood v. Casey to merit a re-examination of mandatory counseling and the First Amendment, which prohibits the government from forcing people to make false or misleading statements. More »