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WILLIAMS v. ZBARAZ - 442 U.S. 1309 (1979)

U.S. Supreme Court

WILLIAMS v. ZBARAZ , 442 U.S. 1309 (1979)

442 U.S. 1309

Jasper F. WILLIAMS, M. D., et al., Applicant,
David ZBARAZ, M. D., et al.

Arthur F. QUERN, Applicant,
David ZBARAZ, M. D., et al.

Nos. A-958, A-967.

May 24, 1979.

Mr. Justice STEVENS, Circuit Justice.

Applicants seek a stay of an order of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois enjoining the State of Illinois from refusing to fund under its medical assistance programs medically necessary abortions performed prior to viability.

The plaintiffs in this action are a class of pregnant women eligible for Illinois medical assistance programs for whom an abortion is medically necessary and a class of physicians who perform such procedures and are certified to receive reimbursement for necessary medical services. Their complaint alleged that the Illinois statute, 1977 Ill.Laws, Pub. Act 80- 1091, 1, denying reimbursement for medically necessary abortions vio-

Page 442 U.S. 1309 , 1310

lated their rights under both the Social Security Act and the Fourteenth Amendment. After the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed the District Court's initial decision to abstain, 572 F.2d 582, the District Judge held that the Illinois statute violated the federal Social Security Act and its implementing regulations, since Illinois' funding of only "life-preserving" abortions fell short of the federal statutory responsibility to "establish reasonable standards" for providing medically necessary treatment. The court rejected the argument that the Hyde Amendment's 1 prohibition of federal funding of certain categories of abortions limited the state's statutory responsibility, and entered an injunction requiring Illinois to fund medically necessary abortions. The Court of Appeals, after denying a stay of the injunction pending appeal, reversed the District Court decision. The Court of Appeals concluded that the Hyde Amendment was not simply a limitation on the use of federal funds for abortions, but was itself a substantive amendment to the obligations imposed upon the State by Title XIX of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. 1396 et seq. The court recognized the constitutional questions raised by its interpretation, and remanded to the District Court with instructions to consider the constitutionality of both the Illinois statute and the Hyde Amendment.

The District Court held both provisions to be unconstitutional on equal protection grounds. While rejecting the argument that strict scrutiny was appropriate, Judge Grady [442 U.S. 1309 , 1311]

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