Roe v. Wade

Roe v. Wade, case decided in 1973 by the U.S. Supreme Court. Along with Doe v. Bolton, this decision legalized abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy. The decision, written by Justice Harry Blackmun and based on the residual right of privacy, struck down dozens of state antiabortion statutes. The decision was based on two cases, that of an unmarried woman from Texas, where abortion was illegal unless the mother's life was at risk, and that of a poor, married mother of three from Georgia, where state law required permission for an abortion from a panel of doctors and hospital officials. While establishing the right to an abortion, this decision gave states the right to intervene in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy to protect the woman and the "potential" life of the unborn child. Denounced by the National Council of Bishops, the decision gave rise to a vocal antiabortion movement that put pressure on the courts and created an anti-Roe litmus test for the judicial appointments of the Reagan and Bush administrations (1981–93). In a 1989 case, Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, the court, while not striking down Roe, limited its scope, permitting states greater latitude in regulating and restricting abortions. Then in 1992, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the court reaffirmed the abortion rights granted in Roe v. Wade, while permitting further restrictions.

See N. McCorvey with A. Meisler, I Am Roe (1994); N. E. H. Hull and P. C. Hoffer, Roe v. Wade: The Abortion Rights Controversy in American History (2001, rev. ed. 2010).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Roe v. Wade: A Woman's Choice
Susan Dudley Gold.
Benchmark Books, 2005
The Legal Status of Abortion in the States If Roe V. Wade Is Overruled
Linton, Paul Benjamin.
Issues in Law & Medicine, Vol. 27, No. 3, Spring 2012
Abortion: The Supreme Court Decisions, 1965-2000
Ian Shapiro.
Hackett, 2001 (2 edition)
Librarian’s tip: Roe v. Wade begins on p. 22
Storm Center: The Supreme Court in American Politics
David M. O'Brien.
W. W. Norton, 2000 (5th edition)
Librarian’s tip: "The Roe v. Wade Decision and Its Aftermath" begins on p. 13
Before (and after) Roe V. Wade: New Questions about Backlash
Greenhouse, Linda; Siegel, Reva B.
The Yale Law Journal, Vol. 120, No. 8, June 2011
Pregnancy and Power: A Short History of Reproductive Politics in America
Rickie Solinger.
New York University Press, 2005
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "The Human Rights Era: The Rise of Choice, The Contours of Backlash, 1960-1980" and Chap. 6 "Revitalizing Hierarchies: How the Aftermath of Roe v. Wade Affected Fetuses, Teenage Girls, Prisoners, and Ordinary Women, 1980 to the Present"
ABORTING ROE: JANE ROE QUESTIONS THE VIABILITY OF ROE V. WADE
Adams, Andrew A.
Texas Review of Law & Politics, Vol. 9, No. 2, Spring 2005
Sin No More: From Abortion to Stem Cells, Understanding Crime, Law, and Morality in America
John Dombrink; Daniel Hillyard.
New York University Press, 2007
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "Abortion: Constestation and Ambivalence in the Long Era of Roe v. Wade"
Abortion and American Politics
Barbara Hinkson Craig; David M. O'Brien.
Chatham House, 1993
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 1 "Roe v. Wade, the Burger Court and American Politics"
The Abortion Controversy: A Documentary History
Eva R. Rubin.
Greenwood Press, 1994
Librarian’s tip: Part III "The 1973 Abortion Cases"
First among Friends: Interest Groups, the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Right to Privacy
Nadine Strossen; Suzanne U. Samuels.
Praeger, 2004
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "Amici Curiae and the Abortion Debate"
Looking for a topic idea? Use Questia's Topic Generator