Last Updated on May 17, 2021
In a major challenge to abortion access across the country, the Supreme Court has announced that they will take up a case about a Mississippi Law which bans nearly all abortions after 15 weeks, in what may be the greatest challenge to Roe vs. Wade in a generation.
Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization goes to the Supreme Court after being struck down by lower courts as a violation of the landmark 1973 case Roe vs. Wade, which protected abortion rights. Conservatives and pro life activists hope that taking the case to a markedly conservative Supreme Court will overturn that ruling.
Mississippi’s law is one of several bills from across the country have been introduced or passed in state legislatures with the hope of forcing a SCOTUS vote on Roe. This has only intensified in the wake of the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett and a 6-3 conservative majority. Additionally, almost 20 states have signed onto the case in support of the pro life position.
The Mississippi Gestational Age Act, signed into law in 2018, prohibits abortions after 15 weeks except if there are medical emergencies or the fetus has severe abnormalities. Those who voted for and support the law claim that the law is is targeted against inhumane procedures, further arguing that a fetus is capable of detecting and responding to pain by that time.
SCOTUS decided to only take up the first question of the case “Whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.” In other words, this case will decide whether or not any restrictions on abortion are Constitutional. If they decide that such laws are not, this will go against the precedent of allowing for states to impose some restrictions on abortion. Furthermore, while not a direct challenge to Roe vs. Wade, SCOTUS will have the ability to review that case in relation to this one, potentially overturning it in the process.
Jeanne Mancini, President of of the organization March for Life, supports the challenge, saying “States should be allowed to craft laws that are in line with both public opinion on this issue as well as basic human compassion, instead of the extreme policy that Roe imposed.” The decision from the High Court is expected sometime this year.