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Bigelow v. Virginia (1975)

In Brief

Bigelow v. Virginia (1975): Court rules that First Amendment protects abortion advertisements

Jeffrey Bigelow, editor of The Virginia Weekly, published an ad for a New York agency offering to connect women in Virginia (where abortion law was more restrictive) with abortion doctors in New York (where abortion law was more permissive). He was convicted under a Virginia law which made it a crime to "encourage or prompt the procuring of abortion." Bigelow filed suit claiming the law violated his First Amendment right to free speech.

The Supreme Court agreed. The Court, noting that the First Amendment gives some protection even to commercial speech, concluded the abortion ad was entitled to protection because it promoted services that were legal in New York and contained abortion information of "constitutional interest" to the general public.

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