The state of Mississippi on Thursday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade as part of a major abortion case the justices will consider this fall.
As part of a 49-page brief to the court, Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch argued that the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and its subsequent 1992 Casey v. Planned Parenthood ruling were "egregiously wrong." Casey upheld Roe.
The high court this fall will consider the constitutionality of a Mississippi law prohibiting an abortion after the 15th week of a woman's term. The law includes exceptions for fetal abnormality and medical emergencies.
The Supreme Court said it would limit the scope of the case to one question: Are all laws restricting pre-viability abortions unconstitutional?
Fitch, in her brief to the court, says answering the question is difficult only because of Roe and Casey.
"On a sound understanding of the Constitution, the answer to the question presented in this case is clear, and the path to that answer is straight. 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," Fitch argues.
"This case is made hard only because" of Roe and Casey, she argues.
"Under those cases, a state law restricting abortion may not pose an 'undue burden' on obtaining an abortion before viability," she argues. "... Roe and Casey are thus at odds with the straightforward, constitutionally grounded answer to the question presented. So the question becomes whether this Court should overrule those decisions. It should. The stare decisis case for overruling Roe and Casey is overwhelming."
Meanwhile, Fitch argues that abortion itself is "fundamentally different from any right this Court has ever endorsed."
"No other right involves, as abortion does, 'the purposeful termination of a potential life,'" Fitch argues.
The American landscape has changed since 1973, Fitch says in her brief. For example, adoption is "accessible and on a wide scale," contraceptives "are more available and effective," and scientific advances "show that an unborn child has taken on the human form and features months before viability."
"States should be able to act on those developments," Fitch argues. "But Roe and Casey shackle States to a view of the facts that is decades out of date."
Photo courtesy: Bill Mason/Unsplash
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.