Latest Reports
Your State
Contact Us



The pre-Roe statutes prohibited “unlawful” abortions.1  The statutes themselves did not define what an “unlawful” abortion was, nor was the word given an authoritative interpretation by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.  Pursuant to Roe, the statutes were declared unconstitutional by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in a pair of decisions,2 and were later repealed.3  The pre-Roe statutes would not be revived by a decision overruling Roe v. Wade.  Abortions could be performed for any reason before the twenty-fourth week of pregnancy.   Under a separate statute, however, abortions could be performed after the twenty-fourth week of pregnancy only to prevent the death of the pregnant woman or to prevent substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.4


1 Pa. Stat. Ann. tit. 18, §§ 4718, 4719 (West 1963).

2 See Commonwealth v. Page, 303 A.2d 215 (Pa. 1973); Commonwealth v. Jackson, 312 A.2d 13 (Pa. 1973).

3 1974 Pa. Laws 639, Act No. 209, § 10.

4 See Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. tit. 18, § 3211 (West 2000). 


© 2005 Life Legal Defense Fund. All rights reserved.
May be reprinted without permission but with attribution to the Life Legal Defense Fund.