The Past: Roe v. Wade

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Roe v. Wade

Roe v. Wade is the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that famously invalidated the Texas law in 1973 on the ground that the constitutional right to privacy encompasses a woman’s decision whether or not to continue her pregnancy.

The Court found that the state could not “override the rights of the pregnant woman” by “adopting one theory of life.” Characterizing this right as ‘fundamental’ to a woman’s ‘life and future,’ the Court held that the state could not interfere with the abortion decision unless it had a compelling reason.

Doe v. Bolton

In a companion case to RoeDoe v. Bolton, which the ACLU argued before the Justices, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Georgia law prohibiting abortions except when necessary to preserve a woman's life or health or in cases of fetal abnormality or rape. The Court held the Georgia law unconstitutional, because it imposed too many restrictions and interfered with a woman's right to decide, in consultation with her physician, to terminate her pregnancy.

Margie Pitts Hames

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