Undue burden

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Undue burden is a legal argument often made in seeking invalidation of a law that disfavors abortion.

The undue burden test was set forth by the plurality decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833, 895 (1992): if the statute "will operate as a substantial obstacle to a woman's choice to undergo an abortion," "in a large fraction of the cases in which" the statute is relevant, then it is an unconstitutional "undue burden" on the right to have an abortion.

Parental notification or consent requirements for women under the age of 18 are valid, and are not an "undue burden":[1]

Those enactments, and our judgment that they are constitutional, are based on the quite reasonable assumption that minors will benefit from consultation with their parents and that children will often not realize that their parents have their best interests at heart. We cannot adopt a parallel assumption about adult women.

The giving of "truthful, nonmisleading information about the nature of" abortion is not an undue burden:[2]

To the extent Akron I and Thornburgh find a constitutional violation when the government requires, as it does here, the giving of truthful, nonmisleading information about the nature of the procedure, the attendant health risks and those of childbirth, and the "probable gestational age" of the fetus, those cases go too far, are inconsistent with Roe's acknowledgment of an important interest in potential life, and are overruled.


  1. Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833, 895 (1992).
  2. Casey, 505 U.S. at 882.

See also