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Roe V. Wade

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Roe v. Wade

(410 U.S. 113, 93 S.Ct. 705, 35 L.Ed. 2d 147 1973)

Facts: Texas enacted a law that made it illegal to procure an abortion, unless, pursuant to medical advice, given to save the life of the mother. Jane Roe was an unmarried, pregnant woman. She was unable to get a lawful abortion in Texas because her life was not endanger by the continuation of her pregnancy.

Issue:Whether a pregnant woman has a constitutional right to terminate the pregnancy; and whether the state interests in protecting life are justified under strict scrutiny that the 14th Amend demands?

Legal Reasoning: According to the court, the right of privacy under the 14th Amendment is broad enough to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy. The court further ruled that the right of the woman is not absolute. The state can regulate the woman's actions in cases where the law serves a "compelling state interest". Therefore, in the end, the court ruled that in the initial stages of the pregnancy (before the end of the first trimester) the woman and her physician are free to make their choice about abortion without the interference from the state. For the subsequent stage of pregnancy, the state can regulate the woman's choice but only to serve the compelling interest of promoting the health of the mother. For the stage after viability, the state in promoting its interest in the potentiality of human life may, if it chooses, regulate and even proscribe, abortion except where it is necessary to preserve the life of the mother.

Decision: Women have the right to terminate during 1st Trimester; states are free to increase restrictions as pregnancy progresses, so long as they are tailored to recognized legitimate state interests; physicians have the right to administer medical treatment, according to his professional Judgment up to the point where state interests provide compelling justification for intervention.



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