Supreme Court to hear landmark Mississippi abortion case on fate of Roe v Wade

·2-min read
Abortion rights protesters outside of Texas’s state capital  (Austin American-Statesman)
Abortion rights protesters outside of Texas’s state capital (Austin American-Statesman)

The Supreme Court announced on Monday that oral arguments in a landmark Mississippi case over a law banning abortions after 15 weeks in the pregnancy would begin on 1 December, three months after a Texas law banning the procedure after six weeks went into effect without action from the Court.

The case stands out as attorneys have argued explicitly in legal filings that the precedent establishing abortion rights in Roe V Wade was wrong, and should be overturned. Doing so would end the guarantee of abortion rights for every person in the US, and open the door wide to future restrictions on the procedure by conservatives.

“[Roe V. Wade] and [Planned Parenthood V. Casey] are unprincipled decisions that have damaged the democratic process, poisoned our national discourse, plagued the law — and, in doing so, harmed this Court,” wrote Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch in the state’s brief seeking the decisions overturned.

Abortion rights activists are watching the case with nervous anticipation; while unthinkable in past years, the Court’s newly-cemented conservative majority resulting from former President Donald Trump’s three additions to the bench puts the fate of Roe V. Wade in potential jeopardy. The Court already dealt a blow to the left just a few weeks ago by declining to act in the Texas case, allowing the nation’s most-restrictive abortion law to go into effect.

A decision on the Mississippi case would likely come several months after oral arguments conclude, potentially allowing Texas’s highly controversial new law to remain in effect for nearly a year unless the Court takes separate action in that case before reaching a conclusion on the Mississippi ban.

Mississippi’s law bans abortions after 15 weeks into the pregnancy, with no exceptions for rape or incest. The law does allow for the pregnancy to be terminated if the mother is at serious medical risk, or if serious fetal abnormality is detected.

The clinic at the center of the Mississippi fight is represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, a national group that has battled to defend the Roe V. Wade precedent in the courts for years.

“Politicians are attacking the right to abortion from all angles, and it must be stopped. We are asking the Supreme Court to defend the precedent it has stood by for nearly 50 years. This is a decisive moment for the Court and this country,” said the group’s CEO and president, Nancy Northup, last week.

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