The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review a significant Mississippi state case seeking to ban abortion past 15 weeks gestation, the ruling of which could result in other pro-life Republican states seeking to enforce the same restrictions on the sinful practice.
The Supreme Court agreed to hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a 2018 law passed by the Mississippi legislature banning abortions after 15 weeks, except when there are risks to the life or physical health of the mother or fetal anomalies causing the death of the baby.
The Mississippi law was blocked by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which argued that the law runs counter to Roe v. Wade, allowing women to abort their children up to 20 weeks when the baby is deemed likely to survive outside the mother’s womb.
Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch consequently appealed to the Supreme Court.
“The petition asks the Court to clarify its abortion jurisprudence to allow states like ours to enact laws that advance their legitimate interests in protecting maternal health, safeguarding unborn babies, and promoting respect for innocent and vulnerable life,” Fitch said.
He added, “We are hopeful that the Court will accept our case and allow Mississippi to defend innocent life as the legislature and the people of this great state intend.”
The Court will likely hear the case between September and November this year.
The pro-abortion argument of ‘viability’
The centerpiece of this case and other pro-life laws seeking to challenge Roe v. Wade, which is seen as a clear violation of the U.S. National Constitution, is the “viability” of the baby to survive outside the womb.
Currently, pro-life Republican states can only limit abortions past 20-24 weeks gestation, which is considered the point at which the baby is “viable.”
But the pro-life view challenges this parameter as an arbitrary criterion for determining when the state’s interests are sufficient to regulate and intervene for the sake of the lives of unborn babies.
Denise Harle, counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, said, “Every human life is valuable, and Mississippi’s law is a commonsense step toward protecting unborn children and their mothers from the harms of late-term abortion. The law protects the life of a baby who can already move around and kick in her mom’s womb—a child who has a heartbeat, can taste what her mom eats, and can experience pain.”
She added: “And the law also protects women, since late-term abortions grow increasingly dangerous to the mother’s health. Women and their children both deserve real health care; that’s why we’re glad the Supreme Court has decided to take up this matter.”
It will be the first time the Court has reviewed a significant case involving state laws restricting abortion.
In addition to Mississippi, the states of Arizona, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Wyoming passed laws ranging from banning abortion from the heartbeat (just a few weeks gestation) to laws banning eugenic abortions—those babies with Down syndrome or physical malformations.
Expectations are high due to a majority of conservative and publicly pro-life justices such as Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court that it will rule in favor of this pro-life law. Setting a national precedent could mean a breakthrough towards a complete abortion ban or a significant reduction in this sinful practice.