Amdt14.S1.10.7.7 Abortion

Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Rodriguez furnished the principal analytical basis for the Court’s subsequent decision in Maher v. Roe, 1 holding that a state’s refusal to provide public assistance for abortions that were not medically necessary under a program that subsidized all medical expenses otherwise associated with pregnancy and childbirth did not deny to indigent pregnant women equal protection of the laws. As in Rodriguez, the Court held that the indigent are not a suspect class. 2 Again, as in Rodriguez and in Kras, the Court held that, when the state has not monopolized the avenues for relief and the burden is only relative rather than absolute, a governmental failure to offer assistance, while funding alternative actions, is not undue governmental interference with a fundamental right. 3 Expansion of this area of the law of equal protection seems especially limited.

Footnotes

  1.  432 U.S. 464 (1977).
  2.  432 U.S. at 470-71.
  3.  432 U.S. at 471-74. See also Harris v. McRae, 448 U.S. 297, 322-23 (1980). Total deprivation was the theme of Boddie and was the basis of concurrences by Justices Stewart and Powell in Zablocki v. Redhail, 434 U.S. 374, 391, 396 (1978), in that the State imposed a condition indigents could not meet and made no exception for them. The case also emphasized that Dandridge v. Williams, 397 U.S. 471 (1970), imposed a rational basis standard in equal protection challenges to social welfare cases. But see Califano v. Goldfarb, 430 U.S. 199 (1977), where the majority rejected the dissent’s argument that this should always be the same.