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Abortion Law/Police Power

Health and Safety Regulations Upheld for Abortion Clinics - Greenville Women's Clinic v. Bryant, 222 F.3d 157 (4th Cir.(S.C.) 2000)

Greenville Women's Clinic v. Bryant deals with the constitutionality of health and safety regulations on abortion clinics.  The clinic alleged that it is unconstitutional to single out abortion clinics for regulation, and that complying with such regulations would unduly burden a woman's right to an abortion.  The court first found that there is no constitutional prohibition on special regulations on abortion clinics, in that they constitute a rational class to regulate, and that it is not unconstitutional for the state to regulate one potential public health issue without regulating all.  The regulations themselves appear to be a good reflection of national standards for clinic sanitation and organization.  Since this is a facial challenge, the court found these are rationally related to a proper state concern with the health and safety of clinic patients and there is no evidence of improper enforcement.  The opinion implicitly raises the issue of why all patients, and not just abortion patients, should get the benefit of these regulations, but this is not developed because it is not a constitutional bar to the regulations.

After remand, Greenville Women's Clinic v. Commissioner, South Carolina Dept. of Health and Environmental Control, 317 F.3d 357 (4th Cir.(S.C.), cert. denied, --- S.Ct. ----, 2003 WL 837287, 71 USLW 3568 (U.S. Apr 28, 2003), the court found that provisions in the law requiring patient medical information to be released to state regulators did not violate patient's constitutional right to privacy. Also see Whalen v. Roe, 429 US 589 (1977).

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