In the 1973 case of Roe v. Wade, the US Supreme Court ruled that laws banning abortion violated the US Constitution. The Texas abortion laws, articles 1191–1194, and 1196 of the Texas penal code, made abortion illegal and criminalized those who performed or facilitated the procedure. Prior to Roe v. Wade, most states heavily regulated or banned abortions. The US Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade secured women's rights to terminate pregnancies for any reasons within the first trimester of pregnancy. It also sparked legal discussions of abortion, fetus viability and personhood, and the trimester framework, setting a landmark precedent for future cases including Webster v. Reproductive Health Services (1989), Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), and Stenberg v. Carhart (2000).
In its 1993 decision Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the US Supreme Court established the Daubert Standard for evaluating the admissibility of scientific knowledge as evidence in US federal courts. When it began in trial court, the case addressed whether or not Bendectin, an anti-nausea medication taken during pregnancy, caused birth defects. However, after the trial court dismissed the case for lack of admissible evidence, Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. advanced through appeals courts to the US Supreme Court, where the Justices defined the criteria by which scientific knowledge, which for them included a least theories based on evidence, expert testimony from scientists, and scientific techniques, could be introduced and used in court cases as evidence. The Daubert Standard states that the judge of a case is responsible for determining what claims are admissible as scientific knowledge and as evidence in the case. The admissibility should be determined by the falsifiability of the claims, by whether or not they had passed peer reviewed, by the general scientific acceptance of the claims, and for techniques, by their error rates of the techniques. Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. set a landmark precedent in the US judicial system and influenced most subsequent legal cases that appealed to science to establish facts in trials.
In the 1989 case Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, the US Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of a Missouri law regulating abortion care. The Missouri law prohibited the use of public facilities, employees, or funds to provide abortion counseling or services. The law also placed restrictions on physicians who provided abortions. A group of physicians affected by the law challenged the constitutionality of certain sections of it. The US federal district court that first heard the case ruled many of the challenged sections of the law unconstitutional. The Missouri attorney general then appealed the case to an US federal appeals court and eventually to the US Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. In a five to four decision, the US Supreme Court overturned the decisions of the lower federal courts, ruling that it was constitutional to prohibit public funds, facilities, and employees from providing abortion care. In doing so, the Supreme Court upheld a state law that limited women’s access to abortions and established a precedent that states could apply restrictions to abortion care.
In the 1973 court case Doe v. Bolton, the US Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., ruled that a Georgia law regulating abortion was unconstitutional. The Georgia abortion law required women seeking abortions to get approval for the procedure from their personal physician, two consulting physicians, and from a committee at the admitting hospital. Furthermore, under the statutes, only women who had been raped, whose lives were in danger from the pregnancy, or who were carrying fetuses likely to be seriously, permanently malformed were permitted to receive abortions. The US Supreme Court ruled that the Georgia requirements violated the right to privacy implicit in the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution. Decided on the same day as the abortion case Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton expanded women’s access to abortion by striking down laws that restricted the reasons for which women could receive abortions.
On 1 July 1976, the US Supreme Court decided in the case Planned Parenthood v. Danforth that provisions of a Missouri law regulating abortion care were unconstitutional. That law, House Bill 1211, restricted abortion care by requiring written consent for each abortion procedure from the pregnant woman as written consent of the woman’s husband if she was married, or the written consent of her parents if she was unmarried and younger than eighteen. House Bill 1211 also required that physicians make efforts to preserve the lives of aborted fetuses. Following the passage of House Bill 1211 in 1974, two physicians and Planned Parenthood of Central Missouri challenged the law. Following the decisions by several lower courts, the US Supreme Court ruled on the case. The US Supreme Court struck down parts of a law that violated the US Constitution and the prior court case Roe v. Wade, and in doing so, they expanded access to abortion care in the US.