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Maher v. Roe

Significance

The decision represented a trend to limit the availability of abortion, particularly to poor women, by denying state and federal funds for abortions.

In 1973, the Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision, Roe v. Wade, certifying that a woman's constitutional right to privacy also guaranteed her right to choose to have an abortion. State laws against abortion had to be struck down in the wake of this decision, which pro-choice advocates hailed as a victory.

But the decision also created a backlash of anti-abortion sentiment. Although the Supreme Court had made it impossible to outlaw abortion outright, those who believed abortion was wrong tried to stop women from having this procedure in many other ways.

For example, Congress passed the Hyde Amendment to the Social Security Act, which provided that federal funds could not be used to reimburse states for Medicaid-funded abortions unless the life of the mother was threatened by the pregnancy, or unless the pregnancy was due to rape or incest. Medicaid is a federally funded program administered by the states to help low-income people get medical care. Although the Hyde Amendment left states the option of paying for women's abortions out of their own funds, most states felt they could not afford that. Thus, cutting off federal funds made it very unlikely that low-income women would be able to have abortions, even though the Hyde Amendment had not actually made abortions illegal, or even forbidden states to pay for them.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1973 to 1980Maher v. Roe - Significance, Doctor's Certification Needed, Not A Protected Class, A Distressing Insensitivity, Legal Consequences Of Maher V. Roe