Mississippi abortion case review may be gateway for SCOTUS to strike down Roe v. Wade

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The Supreme Court’s nominal 6-3 conservative majority is poised to either reverse a previous court’s Roe v. Wade ruling or substantially curb abortion procedures thanks to a Mississippi case justices are set to consider.

In fact, say legal analysts, the Mississippi case is arguably the “most dramatic opportunity” for the high court “to overturn its own precedent since Brown v. Board of Education,” Fox News reported Sunday.

That is due in large part because there have been very few social issues over the decades that have generated as much controversy and passion as abortion, which has still been fought over since the Supreme Court found a constitutional right to the procedure in 1973, overturning laws prohibiting or severely restricting the procedure in all 50 states.

Justices are set to hear arguments on Wednesday in the state case over a law banning abortions after 15 weeks; the issue is whether state laws barring pre-viability voluntary abortions are unconstitutional.

But more importantly, Mississippi officials will “boldly” ask the justices to strike down Roe v. Wade, in which abortions across the country are considered legal until around the 24th week, which is the medically accepted standard for when a baby can survive outside the mother’s womb, noted Fox News.

Lower federal courts have blocked the Mississippi law as well as another that bans abortions altogether after six weeks.

Meanwhile, the only remaining abortion clinic in the state is being supported by the Biden administration in asking SCOTUS to uphold the core of Roe v. Wade and in doing so strike down the Mississippi statute which was passed in 2018 but never enforced after lower federal courts intervened.

Currently, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the sole abortion clinic operating in Mississippi, only performs abortions up to 16 weeks, adding that its providers only perform about 100 procedures every year after the 15th week.

The facility’s director, meanwhile, is arguing that the issue isn’t just a medical debate, though she said she is expecting the worst from the justices.

“Abortion is absolutely a racial and economic justice issue,” Shannon Brewer wrote in a recent op-ed published by The New York Times.

“The [restrictive state] 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,” she added.

The state, meanwhile, argues that the Roe decision should be struck down over the issue of states’ rights.

“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,” argued Lynn Fitch, Mississippi’s attorney general. “The Supreme Court can return decision-making about abortion policy to the elected leaders and allow the people to empower women and promote life.”

The issue is nearly as old as the republic.

In 1821, Connecticut became the first state to outlaw abortions, particularly after the “quickening,” the period when a woman begins to feel the baby moving inside her.

But, “it was not until the 1960s that an organized movement was launched to ease the laws regulating abortions,” Fox News reported, a fight that culminated in the Supreme Court’s Roe ruling.

The woman who was “Jane Roe” in the case, Norma McCorvey, has since said she regrets her role in the case and joined the anti-abortion movement in the early 1990s.

Jon Dougherty

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