Roe v. Wade 1971– Case Brief Summary
Roe, a pregnant single woman, challenged the constitutionality of the Texas abortion laws, which made abortion illegal except on medical advice to save the life of the mother. Jane Roe argued that the abortion law in Texas violated her constitutional rights and the rights of other women.
A licensed physician (Hallford), who had two state abortion prosecutions pending against him, was permitted to intervene. A childless married couple (the Does), the wife not being pregnant, separately attacked the laws, basing alleged injury on the future possibilities of contraceptive failure, pregnancy, unpreparedness for parenthood, and impairment of the wife's health.
A three-judge District Court, which combined the actions, held that Roe and Hallford, and members of their classes, had standing to sue and presented justiciable arguments. Ruling that declaratory, though not injunctive, relief was necessary, the court declared the abortion statutes void as vague and overbroadly invading the 9th and 14th Amendment rights. The court ruled the Does' complaint not justiciable. Appellants directly appealed to this Court on the injunctive rulings, and cross-appealed from the District Court's grant of declaratory relief to Roe and Hallford.
The Court held that, in regard to abortions during the first trimester, the decision must be left to the judgment of the pregnant woman’s doctor. In regard to second trimester pregnancies, states may promote their interests in the mother’s health by regulating abortion procedures related to the health of the mother. Regarding third trimester pregnancies, states may promote their interests in the potentiality of human life by regulating or even prohibiting abortion, except when necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.
All state laws limiting women's access to abortions during the first trimester of pregnancy were invalidated by Roe v. Wade. State laws limiting such access during the second...