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Colautti v. Franklin (1979)

In Brief

Colautti v. Franklin (1979): Court invalidates law requiring abortion doctors to use safest procedure for babies when performing post-viability abortions

The Pennsylvania legislature passed a comprehensive abortion law which included a provision requiring abortion doctors to use the abortion technique most likely to allow the baby to be born alive in cases where the child "is" or "may be" viable, so long as a different technique is not necessary to preserve the mother's life or health.

Dr. John Franklin, medical director at a Pennsylvania Planned Parenthood clinic, filed suit arguing the provision was unconstitutionally vague.

The Supreme Court agreed, ruling that the viability-determination requirement was ambiguous and unclear as to whether doctors were permitted to consider their duty to the mother paramount to their duty to the baby.

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