Webster v. Reproductive Health Services

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Determined whether a state can impose restrictions on abortions, such as waiting periods and parental consent, without violating Roe v. Wade.

Full Case Title: 

Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, 492 U.S. 490 (1989)


  • Reproductive Rights
  • Authored Amicus Brief


After years of legal challenges to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court upholds its essential ruling that women have a constitutional right to decide whether to end or continue their pregnancies. The decision recognizes the importance of access to legal abortion for women’s progress toward full equality, saying, "[t]he ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives."

However, the Court also approves additional regulations on access to abortion, even in the earliest months of pregnancy, so long as they do not impose an “undue burden” on women. In practice, though, restrictions such as waiting periods have been approved despite the extreme burdens they impose on women who live far from available abortion providers.