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Roe vs Wade, 410 US 113
ISSUE: Whether or not a woman’s right to privacy as protected by the constitution includes the right to abort her child.
FACTS: This is an appeal of the decision of a US District Court in Texas, which granted the declaratory relief prayed for by the plaintiff who challenged the constitutionality of the Texas Criminal abortion laws; but denied issuing an injunction against enforcement of such statutes. In 1970, Norma L McCorvey ( “Jane Roe” ), a pregnant single woman (allegedly a result of rape), filed a suit against the defendant, District Attorney Henry Wade questioning Texas State Laws which proscribe procuring or attempting an abortion except on medical advice for the purpose of saving the mother’s life. She argues that said laws are unconstitutionally vague and that they abridge her right of personal privacy as guaranteed and protected by the First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Later, she amended her complaint as to represent or sue “ on behalf of herself and all other women similarly situated;” thereby becoming a class suit.
RATIO DECIDENDI: The “right of privacy x x x is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy. We therefore conclude that the right of personal privacy includes abortion decision, but that this right is not unqualified and must be considered against important state interests in regulation.” “A state criminal abortion statute of the current Texas type that exempts from criminality only a lifesaving procedure on behalf of the mother, without regard to pregnancy stage and without recognition of the interests involved (such as liberty interests), is violative of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”
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