Beal v. Doe

LOCATION: Supreme Court of Arizona

DOCKET NO.: 75-554
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

CITATION: 432 US 454 (1977)
DECIDED: Jun 20, 1977
ARGUED: Jan 11, 1977

Judd F. Crosby - Argued the cause for the respondents
Norman J. Watkins - Argued the cause for the petitioners

Facts of the case

In the wake of the Court's decision in Roe v. Wade, abortion opponents turned to state and local legislators in an effort to curb the practice of abortion. This case involved a Pennsylvania law which restricted Medicaid-funded abortions only to indigent women in situations in which a doctor determined the procedure was medically necessary.


Did Title XIX of the Social Security Act require states that participate in the Medicaid program to fund the cost of nontherapeutic abortions?

Media for Beal v. Doe

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 11, 1977 in Beal v. Doe

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 20, 1977 in Beal v. Doe

Warren E. Burger:

Judgments and opinions of the Court in each of three cases will be announced by Mr. Justice Powell.

Lewis F. Powell, Jr.:

The first of be is Beal against Doe.

The issue is whether Title 19 of the Social Security Act requires States that participate in Medicaid programs define the cost of non-therapeutic abortions.

The Federal Act establishes a program supported by state and federal funds under which States may provide medical assistance to needy persons.

The Act requires States to fund several general categories of medical aid.

But it expressly authorizes the States to determine the extent of care pursuant to reasonable standards consistent with the objectives of the Act.

The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit concluded the Pennsylvania regulation which denied funding for non-therapeutic abortions was inconsistent with the Federal Act. We take a different view.

In an opinion filed today with the clerk, we conclude that Pennsylvania's regulation comports fully with the Act's objective of providing assistance for necessary medical services.

We conclude further that the exclusion of non-therapeutic abortions was reasonable within the meaning of the Act.

Accordingly, we reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeals.

Mr. Justice Brennan has filed his dissenting opinion in which Mr. Justice Marshall and Mr. Justice Blackmun have joined, Mr. Justice Marshall also has filed a dissenting opinion and Mr. Justice Blackmun has filed such an opinion in which Mr. Justice Brennan and Mr. Justice Marshall have joined.