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Singleton v. Wulff (1976)

In Brief

Singleton v. Wulff (1976): Court gives abortion doctors standing to file suit against abortion regulations

Dr. Wulff and another Missouri abortion doctor who did elective abortions filed suit against the State's welfare statute because it denied benefits for abortions that were not "medically indicated." The question in the case was whether abortion doctors should have standing to make abortion-rights claims on behalf of potential patients.

The Supreme Court said yes. While the usual rule is that a person cannot claim a violation of another person's constitutional rights, the Court concluded that abortion cases are different because (1) the abortion doctor has a close relationship to the patient and is "intimately involved" in the abortion decision, (2) a woman cannot get an abortion without an abortion doctor, and (3) the publicity and delay of a lawsuit may be an obstacle to a woman asserting her own claims.

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