Supreme Court justices have indicated they will uphold a restrictive, Republican-backed Mississippi law that would ban the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
The court, which has a conservative 6-3 majority, is preparing to rule on the southern state’s appeal to reinstate its ban after it was blocked by lower courts.
Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the only Abortion clinic at Mississippi, challenged the law and has the support of the administration of Democratic President Joe Biden.
A decision is expected by the end of June.
Hundreds of protesters on both sides of the abortion debate held rallies outside the Washington DC courthouse ahead of the arguments.
Pro-life protesters held huge signs reading “Abortion is murder”, some carrying Christian crosses. Abortion rights activists chanted “What do we want?” Access to abortion. When do we want it? Now “.
The landmark Roe v Wade decision of 1973 recognized that the right to privacy under the U.S. Constitution protects a woman’s ability to terminate her pregnancy.
In a 1992 decision titled Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v Casey, the Supreme Court reaffirmed abortion rights and banned laws that place an “undue burden” on access to abortion.
The state of Mississippi tells the Supreme Court that those two decisions should be overturned and that a state law that prohibits abortion after 15 weeks should stand.
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Anti-abortion activists believe they are closer than ever to toppling Roe, a long-standing goal for Christian conservatives.
Mississippi is one of a series of laws to restrict abortion passed in Republican-ruled states in recent years.
The Supreme Court also heard arguments on November 1 regarding a Texas law prohibiting abortion at around six weeks pregnant, but has not yet rendered a decision.
The Roe and Casey decisions mean states currently cannot ban abortion until a fetus is viable outside the womb, typically considered by doctors to be between 24 and 28 weeks.