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Vital Signs

Terminating an Unwanted Parentcy

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

On Writ of Certiorari to the Court of Appeals

June 21, 2017

 

Justice Breyer delivered the Opinion of the Court.

 

Sheila X is a single woman living in San Diego.  Shortly after giving birth to a child, she received her Law School Admission Test scores.  To her surprise, they were high enough to guarantee admission to an elite law school.  At about this time it was discovered that the newborn had a previously undetected handicap—a hearing loss.  In light of these new circumstances, Sheila X decided to pursue a legal career rather than immediate motherhood.  She considered putting the child up for adoption.  However, she determined not to do so because she anticipated those feelings of loss and bereavement which psychologists say are normal in women who follow through with gestation only to give the child away.  Therefore, she consulted a physician, who agreed to perform a presumptively illegal early-life physician-assisted killing at a women’s clinic.

Before her physician could effect the termination, a nurse working in the clinic informed authorities of the scheduled procedure, and the state attorney general obtained an injunction to halt it until various legal issues concerning the scope of physician-assisted killing could be resolved.  The trial court upheld the ban on infanticide,...

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