Beal v. Doe

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Beal v. Doe
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued January 11, 1977
Decided June 20, 1977
Full case name Beal, Secretary, Department of Public Welfare of Pennsylvania, et al. v. Doe et al.
Citations 432 U.S. 438 (more)
The constitutionally protected right of abortion does not mean that states have to treat potential motherhood and abortion in the same manner.
Court membership
Chief Justice
Warren E. Burger
Associate Justices
William J. Brennan Jr. · Potter Stewart
Byron White · Thurgood Marshall
Harry Blackmun · Lewis F. Powell Jr.
William Rehnquist · John P. Stevens
Case opinions
Majority Powell, joined by Burger, Stewart, White, Rehnquist, Stevens
Dissent Brennan, joined by Marshall, Blackmun
Dissent Marshall
Dissent Blackmun, joined by Brennan, Marshall

Beal v. Doe, 432 U.S. 438 (1977), was a United States Supreme Court case that concerned the disbursement of federal funds in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania statute restricted federal funding to abortion clinics. The Supreme Court ruled states are not required to treat abortion in the same manner as potential motherhood. The opinion of the Court left the central holding of the Roe v. Wade decision – abortion as a right – intact. The statute was upheld, with Justice Powell writing the majority opinion.


After the Supreme Courts decision in Roe v. Wade those still opposed to abortion in the United States "turned to local legislators in an effort to curb the practice of abortion." This particular abortion case that came before the Supreme Court involved a Pennsylvania law that restricted "Medicaid-funded abortions" only to "indigent women" when deemed medically necessary.[1]

Decision of the Supreme Court[edit]

In a 6-3 decision, Justice Powell wrote the decision for the majority. Justices Burger, Stewart, White, Rehnquist and Stevens joined Powell's opinion. The opinion did not disregard Roe; instead, Beal reaffirmed abortion as a right. The majority opinion asserts the constitutionally protected right of abortion does not mean that states have to treat potential motherhood and abortion in the same manner. Furthermore, the opinion allowed restriction of federal funding in first trimester of abortion. Powell continued by stating the law does not create poverty that hinders poor women from seeking abortion. In addition, Powell defends states preference in birth over abortion by claiming Roe does not bar preference.


  1. ^ "Beal v. Doe - 432 U.S. 438 (1977)". Oyez: Chicago-Kent College of Law. Retrieved 5 December 2013. 

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Gall-Clayton, N. (1978). "Beal, Maher and Poelker: The End of an Era". Journal of Family Law. 17 (1): 49–92. ISSN 0891-6330. PMID 11655402. 
  • Hull, N. E. H.; Hoffer, Peter C. (2001). Roe v. Wade: The Abortion Rights Controversy in American History. Lawrence, Kan.: University Press of Kansas. ISBN 0-7006-1142-8. 

External links[edit]