Document Type


Publication Date



Roe v. Wade, abortion rights, Supreme Court, Equal Protection clause, equality values


Roe v. Wade grounds constitutional protections for women’s decision wheth­er to end a pregnancy in the Due Process Clauses. But in the four decades since Roe, the U.S. Supreme Court has come to recognize the abortion right as an equality right as well as a liberty right. In this Essay, we describe some distinctive features of equality arguments for abortion rights. We then show how, over time, the Court and individual Justices have begun to employ equal­ity arguments in analyzing the constitutionality of abortion restrictions. These arguments first appear inside of substantive due process case law, and then as claims on the Equal Protection Clause. Finally, we explain why there may be inde­­­pendent political significance in grounding abortion rights in equality values.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Equality before the law--United States, Reproductive rights, Equality, Roe v. Wade, Supreme Court, Abortion--Law and legislation