Webster v. Reproductive Health Services


The U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services on July 3, 1989. The majority decision was written by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, but various justices wrote dissents and concurrences—and in some cases both—to various portions of the opinion. Reproduced here is the majority opinion.

Webster v. Reproductive Health Services was a Missouri abortion case. After 1973, when the Court's landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade essentially legalized abortion, Americans were sharply divided on the issue. In the years that followed, the abortion-related cases the courts heard did not necessarily bear directly on the constitutionality of Roe v. Wade. Rather, they turned on the extent to which any state can impose restrictions on abortion by, for example, specifying at what stage in the life of an unborn fetus abortions might be obtained or whether government funds or facilities could be used to perform abortions.

Webster v. Reproductive Health...

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Chief Justice William Rehnquist (Library of Congress)

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