Roe v. Wade , 410 U.S. 113 (1973) is a controversial United States Supreme Court case that resulted in a landmark decision regarding abortion. According to the Roe decision, most laws against abortion in the United States violated a constitutional right to privacy under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The decision overturned all state and federal laws outlawing or restricting abortion that were inconsistent with its holdings. Roe v. Wade is one of the most controversial and politically significant cases in U.S. Supreme Court history. Its lesser-known companion case, Doe v. Bolton, was decided at the same time.

Roe v. Wade centrally held that a mother may abort her pregnancy for any reason, up until the "point at which the fetus becomes ‘viable.’" The Court defined viable as being potentially able to live outside the mother's womb, albeit with artificial aid. Viability usually occurs at about seven months (28 weeks) but may occur earlier, even at 24 weeks." The Court also held that abortion after viability must be available when needed to protect a woman's health, which the Court defined broadly in the companion case of Doe v. Bolton. These rulings affected laws in 46 states.

The Roe v. Wade decision prompted national debate that continues today. Debated subjects include whether and to what extent abortion should be legal, who should decide the legality of abortion, what methods the Supreme Court should use in constitutional adjudication, and what the role should be of religious and moral views in the political sphere. Roe v. Wade reshaped national politics, dividing much of the nation into pro-Roe (mostly pro-choice) and anti-Roe (mostly pro-life) camps, and inspiring grassroots activism on both sides.


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Real name Norma Leah McCorvey (legal pseudonym Jane Roe) Henry Menasco Wade
Date of birth September 22, 1947 November 11, 1914
Place of birth Simmesport in Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana Rockwall County, Texas
Occupation Director, Crossing Over Ministry Lawyer, District Attorney

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"Roe vs Wade." Diffen.com. Diffen LLC, n.d. Web. 21 Sep 2016. < >