The Supreme Court yesterday gave states sweeping new power to restrict abortions as it upheld most provisions of a Pennsylvania law making abortions more difficult to obtain.
The ruling, contained in five separate opinions by a fragmented court, further eroded the landmark Roe vs. Wade ruling that 19 years ago established abortion as a fundamental constitutional right.
But today's decision did not explicitly overturn, or even abandon, the 1973 ruling.
The court upheld these disputed provisions in the Pennsylvania law:
* Women seeking abortions must be told about fetal development and alternatives to ending their pregnancies.
* Women must wait at least 24 hours after receiving that information. The high court had struck down as unconstitutional a similar waiting-period law in 1983.
* Doctors are required to keep detailed records, subject to public disclosure, on each abortion performed.
* Unmarried girls under 18 and not supporting themselves are required to get the consent of one of their parents, or the permission of a state judge.
But the court struck down, by a 5-4 vote, a provision of the Pennsylvania law that required married women in most cases to tell their husbands about their plans for an abortion.
The impact of the court's ruling was blunted by the fragmented decision that thwarted four court members who said Roe vs. Wade should be abandoned.