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Maher v. Roe (1977)

In Brief

Maher v. Roe (1977): Court rules that failure to fund abortion is not a restriction on the abortion right and says states may favor childbirth over abortion through funding allocations

A Connecticut regulation limited the payment of Medicaid funds to first-trimester abortions that were deemed "medically necessary" (including psychiatric necessity).

Two women who otherwise qualified for Medicaid assistance were denied funding for their abortions because they were not certified as medically necessary. They filed suit, claiming the regulation violated their constitutional right to abortion. They also claimed that the allowance of funding for childbirth but not abortion violated their right to equal protection of the law.

The Supreme Court disagreed, concluding that the refusal to fund abortion placed no restriction on the right to choose abortion. The Court also held that Connecticut was free to favor childbirth over abortion through the allocation of public funds, saying that, while a state may not interfere with a constitutionally-protected activity, it may encourage an alternative activity.

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