Bellotti v. Baird

In Bellotti v. Baird, 443 U.S. 622, 646-47, 61 L. Ed. 2d 797, 99 S. Ct. 3035 (1979), a plurality of the Supreme Court adopted what the Court had previously suggested in Bellotti I by holding that parental consent statutes would not pass constitutional muster unless the State provided an alternative procedure in which a minor could receive authorization for an abortion. The Bellotti plurality concluded that a minor must be permitted an opportunity to show "either: (1) that she is mature enough and well enough informed to make her abortion decision, in consultation with her physician, independently of her parents' wishes; or (2) that even if she is not able to make this decision independently, the desired abortion would be in her best interests." Bellotti at 643-44. With regard to the determination of maturity, Bellotti stated that "the peculiar nature of the abortion decision requires the opportunity for case-by-case evaluations of the maturity of pregnant minors." Bellotti, 443 U.S. at 643 n.23. The Bellotti plurality also concluded that a parental bypass proceeding must maintain the anonymity of the minor and must be completed with "sufficient expedition to provide an effective opportunity for an abortion to be obtained." Id. at 644. In Bellotti v. Baird, a four-justice plurality noted that the Supreme Court has used three reasons to "justify" treating minors differently from adults under the Constitution: "the peculiar vulnerability of children; their inability to make critical decisions in an informed, mature manner; and the importance of the parental role in child rearing." 443 U.S. at 634. If minors are to be accorded constitutional rights unequal to adults by reason of a particular regulation, these factors must support the government's assertion of greater authority. " 'It is only upon such a premise ... that a State may deprive children of ... rights when a similar deprivation would be constitutionally intolerable for adults.' " Bellotti, 443 U.S. at 635 n. 13. In Bellotti, the Court constructed its judicial bypass requirement to permit the consent undertaking to apply only to those minors who could justifiably be treated differently from adults.