Lambert v. Wicklund


DOCKET NO.: 96-858
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-2005)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 520 US 292 (1997)
DECIDED: Mar 31, 1997

Facts of the case

In 1995, Montana enacted the Parental Notice of Abortion Act, which prohibits a physician from performing an abortion on a minor unless the physician has notified one of the minor’s parents or legal guardian 48 hours in advance. The Act provides for a waiver, or judicial bypass, of the notification requirement under certain circumstances, including if the notification of a parent or guardian was not in the best interests of the minor. Several physicians challenged the statute’s validity. The Federal District Court, asserting that a parental notice requirement must be waived whenever an abortion would be in the minor’s best interests, ruled that the statute was unconstitutional. In affirming, the Court of Appeals ruled that a judicial bypass based on the consideration of a minor’s best interests only with respect to the possible consequences of parental notification was constitutionally impermissible, in that the bypass did not sufficiently protect the right of minors to have an abortion.


Is a Montana statute authorizing the judicial bypass of parental notification as to a minor’s abortion, under conditions including a showing that notification is not in best interests of minor, constitutional?