Mississippi’s attorney general asked the Supreme Court to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling when it decides a challenge to a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, setting up what could be a historic decision by the court on the future of abortion rights in the United States.
The state argued in a brief filed Thursday that Roe v. Wade is “egregiously wrong,” adding a right to abortion has “no basis in text, structure, history, or tradition.”
The challenge to the Mississippi abortion ban being heard by the court is called Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
Lower courts have blocked that law from taking effect, citing Roe v. Wade, which holds that abortion is legal before a fetus reaches viability.
Mississippi claims that Roe v. Wade and a later case affirming abortion rights—Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which established that states could ban most abortions after 24 weeks—should be overturned, in large part because “contraceptives are more available and effective, and scientific advances show that an unborn child has taken on the human form and features months before viability.”
What To Watch For
Oral arguments are expected in the case during either late fall or early winter, with a decision coming by early next summer.
The case is going before the most conservative Supreme Court in modern times, leaving anti-abortion advocates hopeful there could be a major change in legal precedent. A case challenging Roe v. Wade making it to the current court has been highly anticipated, with some conservative states appearing to pass anti-abortion legislation specifically with the hope of a legal challenge that could bring the case to the Supreme Court. If the court rules directly on Roe v. Wade, the decision will likely come down to the three justices appointed by former President Donald Trump—Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett—since justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas have persistently voted against abortion rights, while Chief Justice John Roberts has regularly sided with the court’s three liberal justices against overturning abortion precedent.
Overturning Roe v. Wade would allow conservative states to start enforcing abortion bans already on the books that would become effective if the precedent is superseded. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, for instance, signed a bill into law Tuesday that would ban abortions “the moment Roe v. Wade is overturned,” the governor said.
Supreme Court To Consider Mississippi’s Abortion Ban In Move That Could Challenge Roe V. Wade (Forbes)