To access this feature, please Log In or Register for your Casebriefs Account.

Add to Library




Harris v. McRae

Citation. 448 U.S. 297, 100 S.Ct. 2671, 65 L.Ed.2d 784 (1980).
Law Students: Don’t know your Studybuddy Pro login? Register here

Citation. 448 U.S. 297, 100 S.Ct. 2671, 65 L.Ed.2d 784 (1980).

Brief Fact Summary.

Plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of the Hyde Amendment.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Where a statutory classification does not itself impinge on a right or liberty protected by the Constitution, the validity of classification must be sustained unless the classification rests on ground wholly irrelevant to the achievement of any legitimate government objective.


Known as the Hyde Amendment, Congress prohibited the use of federal funds to reimburse abortion costs under the Medicaid program except for in very limited circumstances. Plaintiffs brought suit on equal protection grounds challenging the validity of the amendment.


Whether the Hyde Amendment violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.


No. The Hyde Amendment does not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.


Justice Brennan

This Court is mischaracterizing Roe v. Wade. The Hyde Amendment’s denial of funding plainly intrudes upon a constitutionally protected decision, coercing indigent pregnant women to bear children they otherwise would elect not to have. This is nothing less than an attempt by Congress to achieve indirectly what Roe v. Wade said it could not do directly.

Justice Marshall

This is a retreat from Roe v. Wade. Indigent woman include a substantial proportion of minority women, which could constitute a protected class. This will have a devastating impact on the lives and health of poor women and I do not believe the equal protection of the laws can tolerate this result.

Justice Blackmun

There is condescension here, like in Roe v. Wade, in the Court’s holding that she may go somewhere else for her abortion. This is disingenuous and alarming.

Justice Stevens

There are two serious harms presented here: serious health damage to a woman and the abortion itself. The Hyde Amendment excludes indigent women from the pool of benefits for constitutionally insufficient reasons.


An indigent woman desiring an abortion does not come within the limited category of disadvantaged classes so recognized by our cases. The Hyde Amendment places no governmental obstacle in the path of a woman who chooses to terminate her pregnancy.

A woman’s freedom of choice does not carry with it a constitutional entitlement to financial resources to avail herself of the full range of protected choices. The Hyde Amendment has a rational relationship to a legitimate objective of protecting potential life. Judgement reversed.

Create New Group

Casebriefs is concerned with your security, please complete the following