This week, the Supreme Court is set to hear the most important legal challenge to abortion rights in decades, a critical case from Mississippi that might overturn Roe v. Wade.
The case being argued on Wednesday, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, revolves around a 2018 Mississippi law, H.B. 1510, or the Gestational Age Act. The rule bans nearly all abortions after 15 weeks with some exceptions involving medical emergencies and severe fetal abnormalities. There are no exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
The Supreme Court has never before allowed states to ban abortion before 24 weeks when fetuses are typically able to survive outside the womb. But with a 6-3 conservative majority, pro-choice advocates worry that justices could rule to overturn a critical part of the landmark 1973 case that granted the nationwide right to abortion.
Conservatives and anti-abortion activists have since 1973 sought to narrow or overturn the legal right to an abortion first recognized in the Roe decision. They hope the upcoming Mississippi case finally leads to its dismantling.
According to The Washington Post:
Prior to the Roe decision, over 30 states banned abortions in most cases, Just four states — Oregon, New York, Alaska and Hawaii — had the wide-open regime the justices created in the 7-2 ruling.
If the justices were to overrule Roe and uphold Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act, 22 states have laws on the books that would restrict abortion more than is allowed under current Supreme Court precedent, as peer the Guttmacher Institute.
Notably, eight states still retain their now-unenforced pre-Roe bans: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Heritage Foundation scholars Sarah Perry and Thomas Jipping did an outstanding job further breaking down the legal background and implications of the Mississippi case.
They wrote, “Two features of the law are central to this litigation. First, it is a ban, rather than a regulation, on the performance of abortions. Second, this ban operates well before viability, which the Supreme Court established in Roe, and reaffirmed in Casey, as the ‘critical fact.’”
Perry and Jipping continued, “The Act asserts that the state has an interest in protecting maternal health because the maternal risks from abortion increase proportionately relative to gestational age.”
The Supreme Court will hear arguments on Wed in Dobbs v. JWHO, challenging MS’s ban on post-15 week abortions. Here is the paper that my colleague Sarah Parshall Perry and I published on the case. https://t.co/Lt5U2vr5QW
— Thomas Jipping (@TomJipping) November 29, 2021
“In addition, the abortion method used after 15 weeks, known as dilation and evacuation, is ‘a barbaric procedure, dangerous for the maternal patient, and demeaning to the medical profession.’”
Dr. Donna Harrison — a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist and the CEO of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists — argued in a piece for The Daily Signal that the Mississippi law rests on solid ground in terms of its stated purpose of protecting the health of the mother.
Harrison wrote, “Consider the high risk of pre-term birth that results from surgical abortion. A woman who has had just one abortion has a 30% increased risk of pre-term birth while a woman who has had two abortions has a 90% increased risk of pre-term birth.”
She said, “To put these numbers in perspective, researchers estimate that more than 100,000 American children have died since 1973 from pre-term births linked to prior abortions.”
“And the crisis has influenced minority communities disproportionately hard. Nearly half of these deaths were black children, even though blacks comprise only 14% of the population.”
Harrison noted that she treated multiple women over the course of her career, “who were unable to carry their babies to term due to complications arising from previous abortions.”
She recounted that patients told her they were unaware of the risks later-term abortions posed to their ability to have children later in life.
“I take seriously the Hippocratic Oath’s principal demand—primum non nocere—which means ‘first do no harm.’ Our laws surrounding abortion should do the same. Sadly, they don’t.” https://t.co/zNMXgYh4id
— The Daily Signal (@DailySignal) November 21, 2021
The physician pointed out that the U.S. is behind many European countries — including France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Norway, Switzerland, and Belgium — that place gestational limits on abortions.
In fact, the Charlotte Lozier Institute determined in 2014 that the U.S. is one of only seven countries in the world that allow abortions after 20 weeks, sadly placing us right alongside nations that have little regard for human life, such as China and North Korea.
The United States should be a leader in protecting the right to life.
It’s listed in the nation’s founding charter, the Declaration of Independence, as one of the three inalienable rights endowed to us by our Creator.
Let’s hope and pray at least five justices will see this truth and vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.