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Roe v. Wade
Roe v. Wade
(1973) Decision of the Supreme Court of the United States that established a woman's right to have an abortion without undue interference from the government. A Texas law prohibiting abortions was challenged by an unmarried pregnant woman (pseudonymously named Jane Roe), and the court ruled in her favour, finding that the state had violated her right to privacy (see rights of privacy). Harry Blackmun, writing for the seven-member majority, argued that the state's legitimate concern for the protection of prenatal life increased as a pregnancy advanced. While allowing that the state might forbid abortions during a pregnancy's third trimester, he held that a woman was entitled to obtain an abortion freely, after medical consultation, during the first trimester and in an authorized clinic during the second trimester. The Roe decision, perhaps the most controversial in the Supreme Court's history, remains at the centre of the issue of abortion rights. Repeated challenges since 1973, such as Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, have narrowed the scope of Roe but have not overturned it.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Roe v. Wade, visit Britannica.com.
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