HARRIS v. MCRAE
In 1965, Congress established the Medicaid program, via Title XIX of the Social Security Act, to provide federal financial assistance to states that chose to reimburse certain costs of medical treatment for needy persons. Beginning in 1976, Congress passed a number of versions of the "Hyde Amendment" that severely limited the use of federal funds to reimburse the cost of abortions under the Medicaid program. Cora McRae, a pregnant Medicaid recipient, challenged the Amendment and took action against Patricia R. Harris, Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Did the Hyde Amendment violate the right to privacy, the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, or the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment?
Legal provision: Medicaid--provisions of the Social Security Act
No. The Court held that states participating in the Medicaid program were not obligated to fund medically necessary abortions under Title XIX. The Court found that a woman's freedom of choice did not carry with it "a constitutional entitlement to the financial resources to avail herself of the full range of protected choices." The Court ruled that because the Equal Protection Clause was not a source of substantive rights and because poverty did not qualify as a "suspect classification," the Hyde Amendment did not violate the Fifth Amendment. Finally, the Court held that the coincidence of the funding restrictions of the statute with tenets of the Roman Catholic Church did not constitute an establishment of religion.