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SIMOPOULOS v. VIRGINIA

decided: June 15, 1983.

SIMOPOULOS
v.
VIRGINIA



APPEAL FROM THE SUPREME COURT OF VIRGINIA.

Powell, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Burger, C. J., and Brennan, Marshall, and Blackmun, JJ., joined, and in Parts I and II of which White, Rehnquist, and O'connor, JJ., joined. O'connor, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, in which White and Rehnquist, JJ., joined, post, p. 519. Stevens, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 520.

Author: Powell

[ 462 U.S. Page 508]

 JUSTICE POWELL delivered the opinion of the Court.

We have considered today mandatory hospitalization requirements for second-trimester abortions in City of Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health, Inc., ante, p. 416, and Planned Parenthood Assn. of Kansas City, Mo., Inc. v. Ashcroft, ante, p. 476. The principal issue here is whether Virginia's mandatory hospitalization requirement is constitutional.

I

Appellant is a practicing obstetrician-gynecologist certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. In November 1979, he practiced at his office in Woodbridge, Va., at four local hospitals, and at his clinic in Falls Church, Va. The Falls Church clinic has an operating room and facilities for resuscitation and emergency treatment of cardiac/respiratory arrest. Replacement and stabilization fluids are on hand. Appellant customarily performs first-trimester abortions at his clinic. During the time relevant to this case, the clinic was not licensed, nor had appellant sought any license for it.

P. M. was a 17-year-old high school student when she went to appellant's clinic on November 8, 1979. She was unmarried, and told appellant that she was approximately 22 weeks pregnant. She requested an abortion but did not want her parents to know. Examination by appellant confirmed that P. M. was five months pregnant, well into the second trimester. Appellant testified that he encouraged her to confer with her parents and discussed with her the alternative of continuing the pregnancy to term. She did return home, but never advised her parents of her decision.

Two days later, P. M. returned to the clinic with her boyfriend. The abortion was performed by an injection of saline solution. P. M. told appellant that she planned to deliver the fetus in a motel, and understood him to agree to this course. Appellant gave P. M. a prescription for an analgesic and a "Post-Injection Information" sheet that stated that she had

[ 462 U.S. Page 509]

     undergone "a surgical procedure" and warned of a "wide range of normal reactions." App. 199. The sheet also advised that she call the physician if "heavy" bleeding began. Although P. M. did not recall being advised to go to a hospital when labor began, this was included on the instruction sheet. Id., at 200.

P. M. went to a motel. Alone, she aborted her fetus in the motel bathroom 48 hours after the saline injection. She left the fetus, follow-up instructions, and pain medication in the wastebasket at the motel. Her boyfriend took her home. Police found the fetus later that day and began an investigation.*fn1

Appellant was indicted*fn2 for unlawfully performing an abortion during the second trimester of pregnancy outside of a licensed hospital and was convicted by the Circuit Court of Fairfax County sitting without a jury. The Supreme Court of Virginia unanimously affirmed the conviction. 221 Va. 1059,

[ 462 U.S. Page 510277]

     S. E. 2d 194 (1981). This appeal followed. We noted probable jurisdiction, 456 U.S. 988, and now affirm.

II

Appellant raises two issues that do not require extended treatment. He first contends that Va. Code § 18.2-71 (1982) was applied unconstitutionally to him, because lack of medical necessity for the abortion was not alleged in the indictment, addressed in the prosecution's case, or mentioned by the trier of fact. Appellant contends that this failure renders his conviction unconstitutional for two reasons: (i) the State failed to meet its burden of alleging necessity in the indictment, as required by United States v. Vuitch, 402 U.S. 62 (1971); and (ii) the prosecution failed to meet its burden of persuasion, as required by Patterson v. New York, 432 U.S. 197 (1977).

The authoritative construction of § 18.2-71 by the Supreme Court of Virginia makes it clear that, at least with respect to the defense of medical necessity, the prosecution was not obligated to prove lack of medical necessity beyond a reasonable doubt until appellant invoked medical necessity as a defense. See 221 Va., at 1069, 277 S. E. 2d, at 200. Appellant's reliance on Vuitch thus is misplaced: the District of Columbia statute in Vuitch, as construed by this Court, required the prosecution to make this allegation. See 402 U.S., at 70. Placing upon the defendant the burden of going forward with evidence on an affirmative defense is normally permissible. See Engle v. Isaac, 456 U.S. 107, 120-121, and n. 20 (1982); Mullaney v. Wilbur, 421 U.S. 684, 701-703, nn. 28, 30, 31 (1975).

Appellant also contends that the prosecution failed to prove that his acts in fact caused the death of the fetus. In view of the undisputed facts proved at trial, summarized above, this contention is meritless. See 221 Va., at 1069-1070, 277 S. E. 2d, at 200-201.

III

We consistently have recognized and reaffirm today that a State has an "important and ...


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