The Mississippi case – the most significant set of oral abortion-related arguments the court has heard since 1992 – comes as states across the country, emboldened by the Tory majority and the addition of the Judge Amy Coney Barrett in the High Court, are increasingly passing restrictive regulations related to abortion, hoping to restrict constitutional law first established in 1973 to Roe and reaffirmed in 1992 when the court rendering Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
Roe v. Wade is the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion nationwide before viability, which can occur at around 24 weeks of pregnancy.
Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act, passed in 2018 but blocked by two federal courts, allows abortion after 15 weeks “only in a medical emergency or for a serious fetal abnormality” and has no exception for rape or incest. If doctors perform abortions outside the parameters of the law, their medical licenses will be suspended or revoked and may be subject to additional penalties and fines.
In a brief filed in July, Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, a Republican, argued that Roe v. Wade was “extremely wrong” and should be quashed.
The arguments for overthrowing Roe are “overwhelming,” Fitch said.
Julie Rikelman, attorney for the Center for Reproductive Health – which represents the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Mississippi’s only authorized abortion center, and the clinic’s medical director, Sacheen Carr-Ellis – told judges earlier this month- ci that they should reject the demand to “throw aside half a century of established precedent and abandon a rule of law which, according to this Court, involves only the country’s confidence in the judiciary”.
The judges deliberated for months on whether to resume the Mississippi dispute, finally announcing their decision last spring and sending shockwaves through groups supporting abortion rights, who fear the conservative majority – reinforced by three of those appointed by former President Donald Trump – does not overturn long-established constitutional protections for access to abortion.
A district court blocked the law in a decision upheld by a federal appeals court.
“In an unbroken line going back to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s abortion cases established (and confirmed and reaffirmed) a woman’s right to choose an abortion before viability, ”said a panel of judges from the 5th US Court of Appeals. United. said in December 2019. “States can regulate abortion procedures before viability as long as they do not ban abortions,” the court said and concluded that “the law at issue is a ban.”
The Mississippi dispute comes to court at an unusual time. As judges review the Mississippi case over the next few months, reading countless memoirs from friends of the court and holding oral arguments in December, they took emergency action in a separate Texas case earlier. this month that allowed a six-week ban to go into effect, pending appeal, blocking most abortions in the state.
This story has been updated with additional background information.