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Maher v. Roe

A Distressing Insensitivity

Justices Brennan, Marshall, and Blackmun dissented from the Court's opinion. Justice Brennan wrote an opinion for the three of them, claiming that "a distressing insensitivity to the plight of impoverished pregnant women is inherent in the Court's analysis."

The Connecticut scheme clearly impinges upon . . . [women's] privacy by bringing financial pressures on indigent women that force them to bear children they would not otherwise have . . . We have repeatedly found that infringements of fundamental rights are not limited to outright denials of those rights . . . but also to restraints that make exercise of those rights more difficult.

Indeed, the regulations in Connecticut and in many other states gave welfare mothers with unwanted pregnancies several unpleasant choices. If they went ahead and bore the child, they would receive virtually no more money to take care of it. In 1981, four years after Maher v. Roe, the grant for a fourth person in a welfare household ranged from $24.00 per month in Mississippi to $90.00 in California.

Alternately, a woman might try to find a doctor who would perform an abortion for free, but few doctors were willing to perform such a service. A woman might use her welfare money to pay for an abortion rather than for rent or food. But in Texas, for example, an abortion costs about three months of welfare payments, while in Mississippi, the procedure cost four months payments. Finally, a woman might try to borrow the money from a friend or relative, paying it back more gradually out of her welfare payments.

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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