Committee to Defend Reproductive Rights v. Myers

Landmark Case
Mar 20, 1981

Page Media

ACLU of Northern CA

After the Hyde Amendment was passed by Congress in 1976 many states began to reform their medical aid programs.

This amendment allowed the exclusion of coverage for abortion from healthcare programs like Medicaid. States all over the country began to follow the federal government's lead and take abortion off of their covered medical claims. However, many of these programs would still pay for the costs of covering a normal pregnancy.

Over four different terms, beginning in 1978, California's Budget Act changed provisions in the California Constitution that limited Medi-Cal coverage for abortion, yet still covered the medical expenses of indigent women who carried their child to term.

The Committee to Defend Reproductive Rights filed suit in 1978, arguing that the denial of this coverage was a violation of California's constitutional right to privacy.

The Superior Court agreed, ruling in 1981, "By virtue of the explicit protection afforded an individual's inalienable right of privacy by article I, section 1 of the California Constitution…the decision whether to bear a child or to have an abortion is so private and so intimate that each woman in this state — rich or poor — is guaranteed the constitutional right to make that decision as an individual, uncoerced by governmental intrusion."

Case Developments


Favorable Superior Court ruling.