Donate Case Against Bolton

The Doe Case against Bolton (410 US 179, 1973) is a US Supreme Court ruling that overturned the Georgia abortion law . The Court’s decision was made public on 22 as January as 1973 , the same day that the decision on the famous Roe V. Wade (410 US 113, 1973).

History of the case during years 70

The Georgia Act in question allowed abortion only in cases of rape, severe fetal malformation, or mortal or serious risk to the mother’s health. Among other restrictions, the procedure had to be authorized in writing by three doctors and by a special committee of the corresponding hospital staff. In addition, the law provided for abortion only for residents of Georgia; In no case an abortion could be practiced to a citizen who is not resident in the state.

The plaintiff, a pregnant woman who adopted the pseudonym “Mary Doe” to protect her identity, sued Georgia’s attorney general , Arthur K. Bolton, as enforcer. The anonymous plaintiff was later identified as Sandra Cano, a 22-year-old mother of three, who was nine weeks pregnant at the time of the lawsuit. Cano defines himself as pro-life and explains that his lawyer, Margie Pitts Hames, cheated to sue. 1

A three-judge panel of the district court declared the restrictions established in the law as unconstitutional, although it maintained the need for medical approval and the requirement to reside in the state and refused to suspend enforcement. The plaintiff appealed directly to the Supreme Court .

The arguments and arguments relating to this case followed the same evolution as those of Roe . Atlanta attorney Hames represented Doe at the hearing, while Georgia Deputy Attorney General Dorothy Toth Beasley represented Bolton.

The verdict was passed with the same 7-2 majority (with Justices opposing Byron White and William Rehnquist ) repealing the Texas Abortion Act in Roe v. Wade , and overruling the remaining restrictions set forth in the Georgia law, including the need for medical approval and residency requirements. Together, Roe and Doe declared abortion a constitutional right of the United States, which meant repealing most anti-abortion laws passed in other states.

Broad definition of health

The Supreme Court’s decision in the Doe v. Bolton case established that a woman can perform an abortion beyond the fetal viability limit if this is necessary to protect her health. The Court defined health as follows:

Determining whether, in terms of Georgia law, “abortion is necessary,” is a professional assessment that a Georgia physician must routinely perform. We agree with the District Court, 319 F. Supp., In 1058, that the medical assessment must be made in the light of all the factors – physical, emotional, psychological, family, as well as the age of the mother– Relevant to the patient’s well-being. All these factors are related to health.

The litigation, 30 years later

In 2003 , Sandra Cano filed a petition to reopen the case on the grounds that she was not aware that the case had been resolved in her favor, and that if she had known, she would not have supported the appeal. 2 The district court denied the request, and Cano appealed. When the court of appeal also rejected the motion, 3 Cano requested that the case be reviewed by the Supreme Court. The latter, however, refused to take into consideration Sandra Cano’s attempt to overturn the decision. 4


  1. Back to top↑ White, Gayle. “Roe v. Wade Role Just a Page in Rocky Life Story” , The Atlanta Journal and Constitution (2003-01-22). (in English)
  2. Back to top↑ “‘Mary Doe’ of Doe v. Bolton Files Motion To Overturn Companion Case to Roe v. Wade ” , Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report (2003-08-27). (in English)
  3. Back to top↑ Cano vs. Baker , 435 F.3d 1337 (11th Cir. 2006). (in English)
  4. Back to top^ Mears, Bill. “Court will not rethink ‘Mary Doe’ abortion case” , CNN (2006-10-10). (in English)