Milan Vuitch, a licensed physician, was charged in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia with producing and attempting to produce abortions in violation of the District of Columbia abortion statute. Before trial Vuitch made a motion to dismiss the indictment on the ground that the abortion law was unconstitutionally vague. District Judge Gesell granted Vuitch's motion and dismissed the indictment because the abortion law failed to "give that certainty which due process of law considers essential in a criminal statute. " The United States immediately appealed to the United States Supreme Court, asserting jurisdiction under the Criminal Appeals Act. The Supreme Court, in a 5–4 decision, reversed the district court's ruling, holding that the statute was not unconstitutionally vague in violation of due process. The problem of the vagueness of the words in present abortion statutes was not resolved with finality in the Vuitch majority opinion. Two major implications of the majority's position arise. First, the majority was willing to give the word "health" a broad meaning, at least to the extent of including mental health. Second, a very important implication of the majority opinion is the presumption of correctness to be afforded a physician's diagnosis. The door is opened by the majority to allow doctors much greater freedom in practicing medicine.
Constitutional Law—Due Process and Abortion: United States v. Vuitch, 402 U.S. 62 (1971),
51 Neb. L. Rev. 340
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