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Roe v. Wade

Citation. 410 U.S. 113, 93 S. Ct. 705, 35 L. Ed. 2d 147, 1973 U.S.
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Brief Fact Summary.

The Petitioner, Jane Roe (Petitioner), was pregnant and challenged the Texas statute prohibiting her from acquiring an abortion.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

The State has a limited ability to affect a woman’s ability to procure an abortion.


The Petitioner was pregnant with an unwanted pregnancy and brought suit against the State of Texas for prohibiting medically licensed professionals from performing abortions.


To what extent may the State regulate a woman’s ability to procure an abortion?


It varies, depending on the trimester during which the operation occurred and whether or not the woman’s life and health is taken into account.
Justice William Brennan (J. Brennan) produced a continuum. He begins by noting that a statute, which only excepts from criminality those abortions designed to save the mother’s life is unconstitutional.
Prior to the end of the first trimester, only the pregnant woman and her physician may make decisions regarding the termination of a pregnancy.
During the second trimester, the state may regulate abortion in manners reasonably related to maternal health.
During the third trimester, the state may even prohibit all abortion procedures, except where the life or health of the mother is at risk.


Justice William Rehnquist (J. Rehnquist) dissents, largely arguing that the three-trimester approach offered by the majority speaks more of judicial legislation than constitutional analysis.


The right to privacy is extended further again. Roe is the central case involving a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy. Roe’s three-trimester approach is no longer used by federal courts in analyzing abortion legislation, but rather a more fluid approach outlined in

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