Bell v. Low Income Women of Texas
South Western Reporter, 3d Series, 2002; 95: 253-266
Court Decision: 95 South Western Reporter, 3d Series 253; 2002 December 31 (date of decision). The Supreme Court of Texas held that Texas' Medical Assistance Program's restrictions on abortion funding were constitutional because they did not violate the Equal Rights Amendment, the constitutional right to privacy, or Texas' Equal Protection Clause. The plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of Texas' Medicaid Program's funding restrictions which only provided funding for abortions if the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest, or if the woman was in danger of death. The court held that the restrictions did not violate the Equal Rights Amendment because there was no evidence of discriminatory intent and the restrictions were rationally related to the legitimate governmental purpose of encouraging childbirth and protecting potential life. The court noted that the state made a value judgment favoring childbirth which was fundamentally different than prohibiting abortion. The state may implement that value judgment through the allocation of public funds. Moreover, indigent women retained the same range of choices they would have had if the state had not subsidized any health care costs. Finally, the court held that the restrictions did not violate the Equal Protection Clause because the underlying purpose of Texas' Medicaid Program was to provide indigent health care only to the extent that matching federal funds were available and the restrictions were rationally related to this underlying purpose. [KIE/NAMII]
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