In 1974, the year after the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade, a pregnant Massachusetts teenager, known only as "Mary Moe," sought to terminate her pregnancy without involving her parents. Although she confided in an older sister, she feared telling her father because he had previously threatened to throw her out of the house and kill her boyfriend if she ever became pregnant. Also, perhaps because her parents had not provided her with any "sexual instruction," she wanted to "spare her parents' feelings." However, unable to obtain an abortion without first seeking the permission of both parents under a recently enacted state statute, Mary Moe, on behalf of a "class of unmarried minors in Massachusetts who have adequate capacity to give a valid and informed consent, and who do not wish to involve their parents," challenged the constitutionality of this limitation on a young woman's right to reproductive privacy.

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