Abortion activists are panicking after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a major abortion case out of Mississippi that could allow states to protect unborn babies before viability.
The case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, involves the constitutionality of a law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy unless the mother’s life is at risk. Pro-life leaders hope the Supreme Court will use the case to overturn Roe v. Wade and allow states to protect unborn babies from abortion again.
For many years, pro-life and pro-abortion activists have been talking about overturning Roe, but this case very well may be the one that does it, prominent abortion activist Robin Marty wrote in a column at NBC News.
“… where the other court challenges pared away at edges of Roe, Dobbs lunges straight at its heart,” Marty wrote.
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In their decision Monday, the Supreme Court agreed to consider one question in the case: “whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortion are unconstitutional.”
Current legal precedent focuses primarily on viability. In Roe and later Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Supreme Court prohibited states from banning abortions before an unborn baby is viable. As a result, the U.S. is one of only seven countries in the world that allows elective abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
For years, many states have tried to change this, passing laws to ban abortions completely or at various stages of pregnancy as a direct challenge to these rulings.
“Roe’s viability line is arbitrary,” Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch argued last year, according to USA Today. “It makes little sense to say a state has no interest in protecting the infant’s life.”
If the Supreme Court gets rid of the viability line, abortion activists predict that half of the United States may protect unborn babies by banning all or almost all abortions. In most southern states, Marty said abortions could be almost completely gone.
“The end of Roe would force people into multi-day journeys by car that cover hundreds of miles, with costly flights to Chicago, Denver or Washington, D.C., as the next most accessible options,” she wrote.
Rather than make a costly, time-consuming journey, other mothers inevitably would choose life for their unborn babies. A prominent study by pro-abortion researchers suggests that the vast majority of women do not regret having their child even though they once wanted an abortion.
Julie Rikelman, litigation director at the Center for Reproductive Rights, pointed to the huge number of pro-life laws that have passed in states in recent years as evidence that many states will ban abortions if the Supreme Court allows them to.
“What we’re seeing is huge numbers of abortion restrictions being passed at the state level,” Rikelman told USA Today. “And it’s clear that it’s all part of a coordinated national strategy to either make abortion completely inaccessible or to push it out of reach through any means necessary.”
This year alone, state legislatures have passed 61 pro-life laws, according to the report. Reports from the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute show that states have passed record numbers of pro-life laws in the past decade, seeking to protect unborn babies and mothers in direct challenge to Roe.
“The Mississippi case unquestionably violates 50 years of Supreme Court precedent,” National Organization for Women (NOW) president Christian F. Nunes wrote in an email this week. “There is no way to uphold this ban without overturning Roe.”
Legal experts also suggested the case could bring about a major change for abortion in America.
Kate Shaw, a professor at the Cardozo School of Law, told USA Today, “The decision to take up the Mississippi case suggests to me that the contingent on the court that wishes to proceed more directly to reconsider the core of Roe and Casey has prevailed.”
The Supreme Court has a 6-3 conservative majority, and pro-lifers hope the justices will allow states to protect unborn babies’ rights for the first time in decades.
Meanwhile, abortion activists are preparing for a fight. Nunes said the future of women’s bodily rights is at risk, and NOW will continue to “fiercely” oppose efforts to ban abortion.
Marty urged abortion activists to “prepare” because abortions could be illegal in half the country in less than two years.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case during its next term, possibly in the fall. The court likely will issue a decision sometime next year.
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