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Maher v. Roe

    Citation. 432 U.S. 464, 97 S. Ct. 2376, 53 L. Ed. 2d 484, 1977 U.S.

    Brief Fact Summary. Connecticut Welfare Department limits state Medicaid benefits for first trimester abortions to those that are medically necessary.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. The Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court) should not decide legislative policy.

    Facts. The State Welfare Department limits funding for first trimester abortions to those abortions that are “medically necessary.” Indigent women brought suit, claiming that the statute denies them their constitutional right to an abortion.

    Issue. May Connecticut regulate funding for abortions in a manner that discriminates against the individuals having non-therapeutic abortions?

    Held. Yes. Appeals Court ruling affirmed.
    Justice Lewis Powell (J. Powell) notes that there is no “constitutional right to an abortion.” Rather there is a constitutional right to have the government not unreasonably interfere with a woman’s decision to have an abortion.
    Connecticut may make childbirth a more attractive option for the indigent by paying for a pregnancy taken to term, but the state has put no obstacle in the way of an indigent woman procuring an abortion. The Supreme Court is in no position to review the State’s policy choice.

    Dissent. Justice William Brennan (J. Brennan) believes that the State is forcing women to carry children to term and thus is making reproductive decisions for the women.

    Discussion. Understanding the majority opinion, one must understand that indigent woman have no funding for an abortion whether or not the State denies funding. As such, the State is not putting obstacles in the way of indigent women wanting abortion services.


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