Webster v. Reproductive Health Services (1989)
Abboud, Carolina J.
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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.