Abele v. Markle, Civ. No. 14291.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
Writing for the CourtLUMBARD, Circuit , and NEWMAN and CLARIE
Citation342 F. Supp. 800
PartiesJanice ABELE et al., Plaintiffs, v. Arnold MARKLE, State's Attorney for New Haven County, et al., Defendants.
Decision Date18 April 1972
Docket NumberCiv. No. 14291.

342 F. Supp. 800

Janice ABELE et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Arnold MARKLE, State's Attorney for New Haven County, et al., Defendants.

Civ. No. 14291.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut.

April 18, 1972.


Marilyn P. A. Seichter, Hartford, Conn., Catherine G. Roraback, Ann C. Hill, Co-counsel, New Haven, Conn., Kathryn Emmett, Bridgeport, Conn., Marjorie Gelb, West Hartford, Conn., Barbara Milstein, New Haven, Conn., Nancy Stearns, New York City, for plaintiffs.

Daniel Schaefer, Asst. Atty. Gen., George D. Stoughton, Chief Asst. State's Atty., Hartford, Conn., for defendants.

Peter Tyrrell, Waterbury, Conn., and Joseph P. Nucera, Bridgeport, Conn., amicus curiae, for defendants.

Before LUMBARD, Circuit Judge, and NEWMAN and CLARIE, District Judges.

342 F. Supp. 801

LUMBARD, Circuit Judge.

In Connecticut, statutes prohibit all abortions,1 all attempts at abortion,2 and all aid, advice and encouragement to bring about abortion,3 unless necessary to preserve the life of the mother or the fetus. These statutes are challenged by Dorothy Doe, pregnant, married, and a Connecticut resident, and by numerous female physicians, nurses, and medical counseling personnel residing and practicing in Connecticut.4 We think that by these statutes Connecticut trespasses unjustifiably on the personal privacy and liberty of its female citizenry.4a Accordingly we hold the statutes unconstitutional in violation of the Ninth Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.5

The decision to carry and bear a child has extraordinary ramifications for a woman. Pregnancy entails profound physical changes. Childbirth presents some danger to life and health.6 Bearing

342 F. Supp. 802
and raising a child demands difficult psychological and social adjustments. The working or student mother frequently must curtail or end her employment or educational opportunities. The mother with an unwanted child may find that it overtaxes her and her family's financial or emotional resources. The unmarried mother will suffer the stigma of having an illegitimate child. Thus, determining whether or not to bear a child is of fundamental importance to a woman

The Connecticut anti-abortion laws take from women the power to determine whether or not to have a child once conception has occurred. In 1860, when these statutes were enacted in their present form,7 women had few rights. Since then, however, their status in our society has changed dramatically. From being wholly excluded from political matters, they have secured full access to the political arena.8 From the home, they have moved into industry; now some 30 million women comprise forty percent of the work force. And as women's roles have changed, so have societal attitudes. The recently passed equal rights statute9 and the pending equal rights amendment demonstrate that society now considers women the equal of men.

The changed role of women in society and the changed attitudes toward them reflect the societal judgment that women can competently order their own lives and that they are the appropriate decisionmakers about matters affecting their fundamental concerns. Thus, surveying the public on the issue of abortion, the Rockefeller Commission on Population and the American Future found that fully 94% of the American public favored abortion under some circumstances and the Commission itself recommended that the "matter of abortion should be left to the conscience of the individual concerned." Similarly, the Supreme Court has said, "If the right of privacy means anything, it is the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child." Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 U.S. 438, 92 S.Ct. 1029, 31 L.Ed.2d 349 (1972); see Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479, 85 S.Ct. 1678, 14 L.Ed.2d 510 (1965).

The state has argued that the statutes may be justified as attempts to balance the rights of the fetus against the rights of the woman. While the Connecticut courts have not so construed the statutes,10 we accept this characterization as

342 F. Supp. 803
one fairly drawn from the face of the statutes. Nevertheless we hold that the state's interest in striking this balance as it has is insufficient to warrant removing from the woman all decisionmaking power over whether to terminate a pregnancy

The state interest in taking the determination not to have children from the woman is, because of changing societal conditions, far less substantial than it was at the time of the passage of the statutes. The Malthusian specter, only a dim shadow in the past, has caused grave concern in recent years as the world's population has increased beyond all previous estimates. Unimpeachable studies have indicated the importance of slowing or halting population growth.11 And with the decline in mortality rates, high fertility is no longer necessary to societal survival.12 Legislative and judicial responses to these considerations are evidenced by the fact that within the last three years 16 legislatures have passed liberalized abortion laws13 and 13 courts have struck down restrictive anti-abortion statutes similar to those of Connecticut.14 In short, population growth

342 F. Supp. 804
must be restricted, not enhanced and thus the state interest in pronatalist statutes such as these is limited.15

Moreover, these statutes restrict a woman's choice in instances in which the state interest is virtually nil. The statutes force a woman to carry to natural term a pregnancy that is the result of rape or incest. Yet these acts are prohibited by the state at least in part to avoid the offspring of such unions. Forcing a woman to carry and bear a child resulting from such criminal violations of privacy cruelly stigmatizes her in the eyes of society. Similarly, the statutes require a woman to carry to natural term a fetus likely to be born a mental or physical cripple. But the state has less interest in the birth of such a child than a woman has in terminating such a pregnancy. For the state to deny therapeutic abortion in these cases is an overreaching of the police power.

Balancing the interests, we find that the fundamental nature of the decision to have an abortion and its importance to the woman involved are unquestioned, that in a changing society women have been recognized as the appropriate decisionmakers over matters regarding their fundamental concerns, that because of the population crisis the state interest in these statutes is less than when they were passed and that, because of their great breadth, the statutes intrude into areas in which the state has little interest. We conclude that the state's interests are insufficient to take from the woman the decision after conception whether she will bear a child and that she, as the appropriate decisionmaker, must be free to choose. What was considered to be due process with respect to permissible abortion in 1860 is not due process in 1972.16

The essential requirement of due process is that the woman be given the power to determine within an appropriate period after conception whether or not she wishes to bear a child. Of course, nothing prohibits the state from promulgating reasonable health and safety regulations surrounding abortion procedures.

In holding the statutes unconstitutional, we grant only declaratory relief to this effect as there is no reason to believe

342 F. Supp. 805
that the state will not obey our mandate.17

NEWMAN, J, concurs in the result with a separate opinion.

NEWMAN, District Judge (concurring in the result):

I fully agree with Judge Lumbard's conclusion that the plaintiffs are entitled to a judgment declaring the Connecticut abortion statutes unconstitutional, but my reasons for reaching that conclusion cover somewhat less ground. Moreover, having found the statutes unconstitutional, I would grant plaintiff Doe injunctive relief.

I

The essential contention of plaintiff Doe is that the Connecticut abortion statutes unconstitutionally invade her privacy in matters of family and sex. While the Constitutional basis for this claim is imprecise, there can be no doubt after Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479, 85 S.Ct. 1678, 14 L.Ed.2d 510 (1965), that the Supreme Court recognizes a Constitutionally protected zone of privacy in these matters, founded on either the Ninth Amendment1 or the "penumbras" of the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth and Ninth Amendments as incorporated by the Fourteenth Amendment2, or the concept of liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment alone3.

Having recognized a right to privacy in family and sexual matters, however, the Court has not created an immunity against all state regulation of these subjects. Rather the Court has required the demonstration of a subordinating state interest sufficient to justify the invasion of privacy. Before there can be consideration of whether the state interest does justify the invasion of privacy, there must be a determination of what state interest is being advanced by these statutes.

In this case the State suggests the 1860 General Assembly, which enacted the statutes here challenged, was seeking to advance three state interests: protecting the health of the mother, protecting the morals of the mother, and protecting the life of the unborn child. Determining whether these were the state interests is not an easy task, because of the paucity of relevant materials. These statutes contain no legislative findings, nor are there available legislative committee hearings or reports, or floor debate. Since ascertainment of the state interest is an important step in determining whether or not the state may invade an area of personal liberty entitled to a high order of protection, the inquiry as to what state interest was being advanced by the 1860 General Assembly must proceed with some caution, and a clear demonstration of the...

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18 practice notes
  • Thoms v. Heffernan, No. 98
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • January 8, 1973
    ...a judgment "denying all relief sought by plaintiffs." 405 U.S. at 541, n. 5, 92 S.Ct. at 1116. This case is also unlike Abele v. Markle, 342 F.Supp. 800 (D.Conn.1972) (three-judge court), where the court of appeals, as Judge Timbers' dissent points out, remanded for reconsideration by the d......
  • Landell v. Sorrell, Docket No. 00-9159(L).
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • August 7, 2002
    ...it is up to the legislature to decide whether to advance another state interest in support of that law") (citing Abele v. Markle, 342 F.Supp. 800, 810-11 n. 18 (D.Conn.1972) (Newman, J., concurring), vacated, 410 U.S. 951, 93 S.Ct. 1412, 35 L.Ed.2d 683 (1973)); Tunick v. Safir, 209 F.3d 67,......
  • Roe v. Wade, No. 70-18
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • January 22, 1973
    ...state laws unconstitutional, at least in part, because of vagueness or because of overbreadth and abridgment of rights. Abele v. Markle, 342 F.Supp. 800 (D.C.Conn.1972), appeal docketed, No. 72-56; Abele v. Markle, 351 F.Supp. 224 (D.C.Conn.1972), appeal docketed, No. 72-730; Doe v. Bolton,......
  • Quill v. Vacco, No. 60
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • April 2, 1996
    ...look, approach Page 740 occurred in our own Circuit, in a case bearing many similarities to the one before us today. In Abele v. Markle, 342 F.Supp. 800 (D.Conn.1972) ("Abele I "), a three-judge district court was asked to examine the constitutionality of a Connecticut statute that banned a......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
17 cases
  • Thoms v. Heffernan, No. 98
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • January 8, 1973
    ...a judgment "denying all relief sought by plaintiffs." 405 U.S. at 541, n. 5, 92 S.Ct. at 1116. This case is also unlike Abele v. Markle, 342 F.Supp. 800 (D.Conn.1972) (three-judge court), where the court of appeals, as Judge Timbers' dissent points out, remanded for reconsideration by the d......
  • Landell v. Sorrell, Docket No. 00-9159(L).
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • August 7, 2002
    ...it is up to the legislature to decide whether to advance another state interest in support of that law") (citing Abele v. Markle, 342 F.Supp. 800, 810-11 n. 18 (D.Conn.1972) (Newman, J., concurring), vacated, 410 U.S. 951, 93 S.Ct. 1412, 35 L.Ed.2d 683 (1973)); Tunick v. Safir, 209 F.3d 67,......
  • Roe v. Wade, No. 70-18
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • January 22, 1973
    ...state laws unconstitutional, at least in part, because of vagueness or because of overbreadth and abridgment of rights. Abele v. Markle, 342 F.Supp. 800 (D.C.Conn.1972), appeal docketed, No. 72-56; Abele v. Markle, 351 F.Supp. 224 (D.C.Conn.1972), appeal docketed, No. 72-730; Doe v. Bolton,......
  • Quill v. Vacco, No. 60
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • April 2, 1996
    ...look, approach Page 740 occurred in our own Circuit, in a case bearing many similarities to the one before us today. In Abele v. Markle, 342 F.Supp. 800 (D.Conn.1972) ("Abele I "), a three-judge district court was asked to examine the constitutionality of a Connecticut statute that banned a......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Participatory Litigation: A New Framework for Impact Lawyering.
    • United States
    • Stanford Law Review Vol. 74 Nbr. 1, January 2022
    • January 1, 2022
    ...also Kesselman, supra note 105, at 52-53. (111.) Telephone Interview with Nancy Stearns, supra note 97. (112.) Id. (113.) Id. (114.) See 342 F. Supp. 800,801-02 (D. Conn. 1972), vacated, 410 U.S. 951 (115.) Cain v. Mich. Dep't of Corn, 548 N.W.2d 210, 232 (Mich. 1996) (instructing the lower......

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