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Dalton v. Little Rock Family Planning Services,  (1996)

In Brief

Dalton v. Little Rock Family Planning Services (1996): Court rules that state restriction on Medicare funding for abortion should be consistent with federal law

In 1988 Arkansas amended its Constitution to prohibit state funding of abortions "except to save the mother's life."

A group of abortion doctors and Medicaid providers filed suit claiming the funding restriction conflicted with the Hyde Amendment, an appropriations rider which allows federal Medicaid funding of abortions also in cases where the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest. A federal district court issued an injunction against the Amendment.

The Supreme Court reversed, stating that the funding restriction could still apply to state programs that did not use Medicaid funds. The Court also noted that the scope of the Hyde Amendment could change in the future since it was not permanent legislation. The Court said the amendment should be enjoined only to the extent that it was inconsistent with federal law.

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