Roe v. Wade

Jane Roe (Norma McCorvey) v. Henry Wade, representing the State of Texas--1973

The most significant case for abortion rights, Roe v. Wade challenged a Texas law that prohibited all abortions, except those needed to save a woman’s life.Jan Roe was an alias for Norma McCorvey, a pregnant woman charged with having an abortion.


The Supreme Court invalidated this anti-abortion law because of the constitutional “right to privacy” (as taken from either the 14th Amendment or 9th Amendment, both protecting the rights and privileges of citizens).The court said “privacy” encompasses a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.Characterizing this right as "fundamental" to a woman's "life and future," the Court held that the state could not interfere with the abortion decision unless it had a compelling, or very good reason to do so.Protecting the potential life of the fetus could be considered a compelling reason, only once it became "viable."Even after viability, a woman had to have access to an abortion if it were necessary to preserve her life or health. Roe v. Wade made abortion legal across the country.