Roe v. Wade: APUSH Topics to Study for Test Day

There are several important court cases you should know for the APUSH exam. One of those is Roe v. Wade. Here are some Roe v. Wade APUSH facts to help you review for the exam.

What Is Roe v. Wade?

In 1971, “Jane Roe” wanted to have an abortion. Unfortunately for her, Texas law said that a woman could not seek an abortion unless the pregnancy was detrimental to her health. She teamed up with a lawyer to fight against this law.

Eventually, the case made its way to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court Justices ruled 7-2 that the Texas law was unconstitutional based on the Fourteenth Amendment. Thereby, the case legalized abortion. It said that state laws could not restrict abortions in the first trimester.


Argued: December 13, 1971
Reargued: October 11, 1972
Supreme Court Decision: January 22, 1973

Why Is It Important?

Roe v. Wade is one of the most recognized court cases of all time. Due to the Supreme Court ruling for Roe v. Wade, abortion is legal during the first trimester of a woman’s pregnancy in the United States.

This continues to be a hotly debated issue throughout the country. People debate whether or not abortion should be legal, who has the power to decide if abortion is legal or not, and how late into a pregnancy abortion should be legal.


  • “Jane Roe”- Although this is the defendant’s name in the case, Norma Leah McCorvey Nelson admitted that she was the person represented in the case. She couldn’t get an abortion according to Texas law, because she was healthy and the baby wasn’t a product of rape. Lawyers found her and asked to represent the case. She ended up having the baby and giving it up for adoption.
  • Henry Wade- As the District Attorney of Dallas at the time, he was named as the plaintiff in the case. However, he had very little to do with the case. And luckily, it didn’t negatively impact his career.
  • Sarah R. Weddington- Before serving as Jane Roe’s lawyer, she worked to find a pregnant woman to represent to fight against the abortion laws in Texas.
  • Jay Floyd- Although he was the first attorney to prosecute the case, it’s said that he wasn’t well-liked by the Supreme Court Justices.
  • Robert C. Flowers- After Jay Floyd argued the case, Robert C. Flowers took it over to argue it before the Supreme Court Justices.
  • Supreme Court Justices- Thurgood Marshall, Byron White, Harry Blackmun, William Rehnquist, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., Potter Stewart, Warren Burger, William O. Douglas, and William J. Brennan, Jr.


Roe v. Wade APUSH

Norma McCorvey (“Jane Roe”) in 1989. Image by Lorie Shaull.

Other Cases and Legislation

  • Griswold v. Connecticut- In 1965, the Supreme Court ruled that states can’t prohibit the use of contraception between adults. Because of this case, the Supreme Court Justices determined that the right to privacy made the Texas laws against abortion illegal.
  • The Fourteenth Amendment- Adopted in 1868, the Fourteen Amendment to the United States Constitution discusses rights and equal protection for all citizens. It was this amendment that helped determine the outcome for Griswold v. Connecticut and Roe v. Wade.

Roe v. Wade APUSH Practice Question 1

In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruled that state laws prohibiting abortion were unconstitutional, because:
a.The religious element could not be included due to separation of church and state.
b.Fetuses don’t have the same equal protection for citizens under the Fourteenth Amendment.
c.states did not have the right to make medical-related laws.
d.women have the right to privacy as determined by a previous case involving contraception.

Answer: D. The Supreme Court determined to legalize abortion based on an earlier case: Griswold v. Connecticut. In this case, the Supreme Court determined that it’s a violation of one’s right to privacy to create laws that prohibit the use of contraception.

Roe v. Wade APUSH Practice Question 2

Which earlier court case impacted the Supreme Court ruling for Roe v. Wade?
a. Gideon v. Wainwright
b. Griswold v. Connecticut
c. Plessy v. Ferguson
d. McCullough v. Maryland

Answer: B. Since the Griswold v. Connecticut ruling occurred 8 years prior, it impacted the results in the Roe v. Wade case. The Supreme Court Justices who ruled in favor of Roe determined that the case also fell with the right to privacy clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Roe v. Wade APUSH Practice Question 3

The Roe v. Wade decision:
a. was unanimous among the 9 Supreme Court Justices who heard the case.
b. continues to cause heated debate whether abortion should be legal.
c. angered Americans because it violated their Tenth Amendment rights.
d. only impacted states that didn’t have laws regarding abortion already.

Answer: B. When the ruling in Roe v. Wade legalized abortion, many Americans were outraged. Many disagreed with the morality of abortion. Others didn’t think that the Supreme Court should have the power to do this. Abortion continues to be heavily debated year after year.

Roe v. Wade APUSH Practice Question 4

Which Constitutional Amendment influenced the Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade?
a. 12th Amendment
b. 14th Amendment
c. 16th Amendment
d. 18th Amendment

Answer: B. The Fourteenth Amendment discusses the right to equal protection under the law and the right to privacy. The Supreme Court decision, based on previous court cases, decided that a woman’s right to abortion should be a private issue.

How did you do on the Roe v. Wade APUSH practice questions? As you continue to prepare for the exam, think about other cases, events, and themes that relate to Roe v. Wade. Good luck and happy studying!

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  • Jamie Goodwin

    Jamie graduated from Brigham Young University- Idaho with a degree in English Education. She spent several years teaching and tutoring students at the elementary, high school, and college level. She currently works as a contract writer and curriculum developer for online education courses. In her free time, she enjoys running and spending time with her boys!

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