What We Know:
- In May, the Supreme Court announced that they would take into consideration “whether state laws that banned abortions before fetal viability were unconstitutional.” The Mississippi case of Dobbs v. Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization prompted the justices to take a further look into Roe v. Wade. They stated that they would listen to Mississippi’s appeal during their next term. This would be the first true test of the Supreme Court, since the addition of the three conservative justices former President Donald Trump nominated, that revolves around Roe v. Wade. During his time in office, Trump declared that he was “very pro-life” and would abolish Roe v. Wade by appointing only pro-life justices.
- In the state’s appeal in 2020, Mississippi “argued its law complied with existing precedent, and it said the court should only overturn Roe if it concluded there was no other way to uphold the state law.” On Thursday, they took back their original statement and said Roe was “egregiously wrong” in stating that abortions were constitutional rights.
“Under the Constitution, may a State prohibit elective abortions before viability? Yes. Why? Because nothing in constitutional text, structure, history, or tradition supports a right to abortion,” said Mississippi in their opening brief.
- Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch believes Roe and Casey, in the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, were “unprincipled decisions” that brought about damage to the country’s democratic process. She claimed that both cases have “poisoned our national discourse and plagued the law.” Fitch has pushed the notion that they place a hold on states since they have to disregard “scientific evidence” that unborn children take on their human form months before they’re able to survive outside the womb.
- In 2018, Mississippi passed the Mississippi Gestational Age Act, which allows abortion after 15 weeks for medical emergencies and severe fetal abnormality. They do not take into consideration rape or incest under this act. Those who perform abortions outside the given guidelines would have their medical licenses either suspended or revoked and possibly have to pay a fine. Fitch believes the act will protect all “lives” involved.
- Gov. Tate Reeves (R-MS) agrees with Fitch in that viability needs to be taken into consideration and the Mississippi Gestational Act is the perfect way for the Supreme Court to revisit Roe v. Wade. Reeves explained to Jake Tapper on CNN’s State of the Union, that if science has changed over the years, then the fetal viability of an unborn child has changed as well. Because of this correlation, Reeves believes we should revisit the 1973 court ruling that has caused countless pro-choice v. pro-life debates all over the country.
- Abortion activists called out Mississippi for being too extreme with their legal cases. Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, stated that Mississippi wants the Supreme Court to take away a woman’s right to decide what to do with her body. This move would not only affect the state of Mississippi but the entire country and future generations to come.
“Let’s be clear, any ruling in favor of Mississippi, in this case, overturns the core holding of Roe – the right to make a decision about whether to continue a pregnancy before viability. The Court has held that the Constitution guarantees this right. If Roe falls, half the states in the country are poised to ban abortion entirely,” said Northup.
- Other states have followed the lead of Mississippi and are pushing for the total banning of abortions. In May, Arkansas released a bill that banned abortions except those performed when the mother’s life is in danger. With this bill, those who performed illegal abortions faced a felony charge and up to 10 years in prison. This bill prompted a pro-choice protest in the state, that brought out protestors dressed in outfits inspired by the hit series and book The Handmaid’s Tale, a story that shows extreme right-wingers taking over the country and women’s rights.
- President Joe Biden, a devoted Catholic, has voiced his opposing views on abortions, yet, he has stated that he doesn’t plan on pushing his views onto other people. He doesn’t believe he has the right to tell women how they should control her body. Biden believes that ultimately that decision is up to “her, her doctor, and the Supreme Court.” The 46th president does not plan on getting involved in the debate, however, his viewpoints have caused Catholic bishops to question if he should be allowed to partake in Holy Communion.
There is only one licensed abortion client in Mississippi and they plan on challenging the appeal made by the state. The Supreme Court has not stated when they will hear the oral arguments for the appeal, but their new term begins in October. Many believe they will have a decision made by the summer of 2022.