Maher v. Roe Case Brief

Why is the case important?

Connecticut Welfare Department limits state Medicaid benefits for first trimester abortions to those that are medically necessary.

Facts of the case

“In the wake of Roe v. Wade, the Connecticut Welfare Department issued regulations limiting state Medicaid benefits for first-trimester abortions to those that were “”medically necessary.”” An indigent woman (“”Susan Roe””) challenged the regulations and sued Edward Maher, the Commissioner of Social Services in Connecticut.”


May Connecticut regulate funding for abortions in a manner that discriminates against the individuals having non-therapeutic abortions?


Yes. Appeals Court ruling affirmed.
Justice Lewis Powell (J. Powell) notes that there is no constitutional right to an abortion. Rather there is a constitutional right to have the government not unreasonably interfere with a woman’s decision to have an abortion.
Connecticut may make childbirth a more attractive option for the indigent by paying for a pregnancy taken to term, but the state has put no obstacle in the way of an indigent woman procuring an abortion. The Supreme Court is in no position to review the State’s policy choice.


The court held that the district court erred in invalidating the regulation of Commissioner of Social Services of Connecticut. The condition on the payment for abortion services does not violate the equal protection clause of U.S. Const. amend. XIV. The regulation involved no suspect class, did not create the indigency that made obtaining an abortion difficult or impossible, and rationally furthered appellee’s interest in encouraging normal childbirth.

  • Case Brief: 1977
  • Appellant: Maher
  • Appellee: Roe
  • Decided by: Burger Court

Citation: 432 US 464 (1977)
Argued: Jan 11, 1977
Decided: Jun 20, 1977