Legal Right To Abortion In Danger As US Supreme Court Allows Challenge To Law
The US Supreme Court has announced it will hear a major case challenging the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that established the constitutional right to abortion.
The case concerns a Mississippi law passed in 2018 that banned most abortions after 15 weeks. It represents the first opportunity for the Supreme Court’s current 6-3 conservative majority to rule on state laws restricting abortion.
The law, which makes exceptions for medical emergencies and fetal abnormalities, but not in cases of rape or incest, has been ruled unconstitutional by both a federal Mississippi judge and the US Courts of Appeals. Under Roe v. Wade, states cannot ban women from terminating a pregnancy before viability.
Experts have said the upcoming case represents the biggest threat to the ruling in almost 30 years.
CNN Supreme Court analyst Steve Vladeck said:
This will be, by far, the most important abortion case the Court will have heard since the Casey decision in 1992.
If states are allowed to effectively ban abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy, as the Mississippi law in this case does, then pregnant women would have a far shorter window in which they could lawfully obtain an abortion than what Roe and Casey currently require.
The upcoming case, which CNN reports has been rescheduled for consideration more than a dozen times prior to today’s confirmation, was brought by the Jackson Women’s Health Organization – Mississippi’s sole abortion clinic. Lawyers for the clinic called the law ‘unconstitutional by any measure.’
Abortion was established as a constitutional right in the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, and has remained a hugely divisive issue in the almost-half century since. The decision was re-affirmed by the Supreme Court in 1992 through its landmark Planned Parenthood v. Casey judgement, but has since come under increasing challenges at a state level, with restrictive abortion laws passed in several states in recent years.
South Carolina, Oklahoma, Idaho, Arkansas and Montana have all passed bills banning abortion before fetal viability, though all are set to be challenged in the courts.
The New York Times reports that in his initial ruling on the Mississippi law in November 2018, federal justice Judge Reeves hinted that the issue could be taken up by the Supreme Court in the future.
‘With the recent changes in the membership of the Supreme Court, it may be that the state believes divine providence covered the Capitol when it passed this legislation,’ he wrote. ‘Time will tell. If overturning Roe is the state’s desired result, the state will have to seek that relief from a higher court. For now, the United States Supreme Court has spoken.’
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CreditsNew York Times
New York Times