May 18, 2021

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Monday to hear a Mississippi case with the potential to seriously weaken the abortion rights in Roe v. Wade.

The justices will consider a law passed by the Mississippi legislature in 2018 that would ban almost all abortions after 15 weeks.

Since the law passed, lower federal judges have ruled it was unconstitutional because of Roe v. Wade. That 1973 Supreme Court case says states don’t have the right to ban abortions before fetal viability, which is usually considered to be around 24 weeks, The New York Times said. 

The exact question the court will decide is “whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.” 

Arguments will be heard in the fall, with a decision expected by spring or early summer of 2022, The Times said.

Groups for and against abortion rights say this case might result in a weakening of Roe v. Wade because of the changing membership of the court.  

Donald Trump appointed three justices during his presidency -- Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett -- creating a 6-3 conservative majority.

“Alarm bells are ringing loudly about the threat to reproductive rights,” Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement

“The Supreme Court just agreed to review an abortion ban that unquestionably violates nearly 50 years of Supreme Court precedent and is a test case to overturn Roe v. Wade. The consequences of a Roe reversal would be devastating. Over 20 states would prohibit abortion outright. Eleven states—including Mississippi—currently have trigger bans on the books which would instantaneously ban abortion if Roe is overturned.”

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List, said the case is “a landmark opportunity for the Supreme Court to recognize the right of states to protect unborn children from the horrors of painful late-term abortions.”

“Across the nation, state lawmakers acting on the will of the people have introduced 536 pro-life bills aimed at humanizing our laws and challenging the radical status quo imposed by Roe. It is time for the Supreme Court to catch up to scientific reality and the resulting consensus of the American people as expressed in elections and policy,” she said.

WebMD Health News Brief

Sources

U.S. Supreme Court website: Case documents

New York Times: “Supreme Court to Hear Abortion Case Challenging Roe v. Wade”

Center for Reproductive Rights: “Roe at Risk: U.S. Supreme Court to Review Mississippi’s Abortion Ban, a Direct Challenge to Roe v. Wade”

Susan B. Anthony List: “SCOTUS to Review MS Pro-Life Law in Major Abortion Case”

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