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Roe v. Wade

Supreme Court of the United States

December 13, 1971, Argued ; January 22, 1973, Decided

No. 70-18


 [*116]  [***156]  [**708]    MR. JUSTICE BLACKMUN delivered the opinion of the Court.

This Texas federal appeal and its Georgia companion, Doe v. Bolton, post, p. 179, present constitutional challenges to state criminal abortion legislation. The Texas statutes under attack here are typical of those that have been in effect in many States for approximately a century. The Georgia statutes, in contrast, have a modern cast and are a legislative product that, to an extent at least, obviously reflects the influences of recent attitudinal change, of advancing medical knowledge and techniques, and of new thinking about an old issue.

We forthwith acknowledge our awareness of the sensitive and emotional nature of the abortion controversy, of the vigorous opposing views, even among [****7]  physicians, and of the deep and seemingly absolute convictions that the subject inspires. One's philosophy, one's experiences, one's exposure to the raw edges of human existence, one's religious training, one's attitudes toward life and family and their values, and the moral standards one establishes and seeks to observe, are all likely to influence and to color one's thinking and conclusions about abortion.

In addition, population growth, pollution, poverty, and racial overtones tend  [**709]  to complicate and not to simplify the problem.

Our task, of course, is to resolve the issue by constitutional measurement,  [***157]  free of emotion and of predilection. We seek earnestly to do this, and, because we do, we  [*117]  have inquired into, and in this opinion place some emphasis upon, medical and medical-legal history and what that history reveals about man's attitudes toward the abortion procedure over the centuries. We bear in mind, too, Mr. Justice Holmes' admonition in his now-vindicated dissent in Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45, 76 (1905):

"[The Constitution] is made for people of fundamentally differing views, and the accident of our finding [****8]  certain opinions natural and familiar or novel and even shocking ought not to conclude our judgment upon the question whether statutes embodying them conflict with the Constitution of the United States."

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410 U.S. 113 *; 93 S. Ct. 705 **; 35 L. Ed. 2d 147 ***; 1973 U.S. LEXIS 159 ****


Subsequent History:  [****1]  Reargued October 11, 1972.

Rehearing denied by Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 959, 93 S. Ct. 1409, 35 L. Ed. 2d 694, 410 U.S. 959, 93 S. Ct. 1409, 35 L. Ed. 2d 694, 1973 U.S. LEXIS 3282 (1973)

Motion denied by McCorvey v. Hill, 2003 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12986 (N.D. Tex., June 19, 2003)


Roe v. Wade, 314 F. Supp. 1217, 1970 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11306 (N.D. Tex., 1970)

Disposition:  314 F.Supp. 1217, affirmed in part and reversed in part.


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Civil Procedure, Declaratory Judgments, State Declaratory Judgments, Appellate Review, Constitutional Law, Case or Controversy, Constitutional Questions, General Overview, Other Jurisdiction, Direct Appeals & Three Judge Courts, Direct Appeals, Justiciability, Case & Controversy Requirements, Actual Controversy, The Judiciary, Ripeness, Appeals, Appellate Jurisdiction, State Court Review, Mootness, Healthcare Law, Medical Treatment, End-of-Life Decisions, Standing, Substantive Due Process, Privacy, Environmental Law, Land Use & Zoning, Constitutional Limits, Personal Decisions, Abortion, Right to Privacy, Bill of Rights, Fundamental Rights, Unenumerated Rights, Fundamental Freedoms, Judicial & Legislative Restraints, Overbreadth & Vagueness of Legislation, Equal Protection, Judicial Review, Standards of Review, Scope, Criminal Law & Procedure, Homicide, Manslaughter & Murder, Criminal Abortion, Elements