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Doe v. Bolton


In Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton the Court upheld a woman's right to an abortion. Notably the Doe case defined "health" as including a woman's age, and physical, psychological, and familial factors. Through the mid-1980s, the Court adhered to its rulings in those cases, despite state challenges. In 1989 came the first sharp departure from the 1973 rulings. In Webster v. Reproductive Health Services (1989), the Court decided to let stand a Missouri law stating that human life began at conception, that barred the use of state property for abortions, and that required viability tests for advanced pregnancies. Some state legislatures began to pass new abortion restrictions after this decision. In Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey (1992), the Court reached a practical compromise allowing limited state regulation of abortion, yet still preserving general access to abortion. The Court decided that abortion after viability (20-22 weeks) can be banned and pre-viability laws only have to meet the new "undue burden" standard, meaning that a "compelling" state interest is not required as long as the law does not form a "substantial obstacle" to obtaining an abortion. This case has replaced Roe v. Wade as the dominant precedent on abortion.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1973 to 1980Doe v. Bolton - Significance, Health Includes Physical, Emotional, And Psychological Well-being, The Issue Should Be Left To The People