NEWS & ANALYSIS

Supreme Court Hears Challenge to Mississippi Law Banning Abortion After 15 Weeks


The Supreme Court hears oral arguments Wednesday in a challenge to a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks. 

The case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, is potentially the most consequential challenge to Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that limited government restrictions on abortion. 

As reported by Just the News, the last operational abortion clinic in Mississippi is challenging the state’s Gestational Age Act, which bans abortion prior to the age of fetal viability set by the court in Roe v. Wade, and updated in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, to around 24 weeks. 

The Mississippi law hasn’t gone into effect due to a federal district court blocking its enforcement following the lawsuit. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals later upheld the ruling. 

“Abrtion is absolutely a racial and economic justice issue,” director of Jackson Women’s Health Organization Shannon Brewer wrote in a New York Times op-ed. “A large majority of our patients are Black women like me. The legislatures passing these laws in Mississippi and other Southern states are mostly male and predominately white. The laws are inherently racist and classist; they keep Black and brown people down. And the research is clear: A woman who is denied an abortion is more likely to live in poverty even years later.” 

Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch argues that states should have the right to create and enforce their own laws regarding abortions. 

“The Roe decision shackles states to a view of facts that is decades old, such that while science, medicine, technology, and culture have all rapidly progressed since 1973, duly enacted laws on abortion are unable to keep up,” Fitch said. “The Supreme Court can return decision-making about aboriton policy to the elected leaders and allow the people to empower women and promote life.” 

If Roe is overturned, abortion laws will be left to individual states. Indeed, pre-Roe abortion bans in nine states would go into effect and automatic bans would follow in 12 more states. Florida, Indiana, Montana, Nebraska and Wyoming would also likely ban abortion. 

There is now a 5 to 4 conservative majority on the Supreme Court, potentially putting the fate of Roe at greater risk. The longest-serving conservative and most senior justice on the Court, Justice Clarence Thomas, strongly opposes the court’s abortion jurisprudence. 

“Our abortion precedents are grievously wrong and should be overruled,” he wrote in his dissent in June Medical Services, LLC v. Russo. “The Constitution does not constrain the States’ ability to regulate or even prohibit abortion.”