The U.S. Supreme Court has set oral arguments for Dec. 1 in a blockbuster Mississippi case that could transform the nation’s abortion laws and lead to the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
The case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, involves a Mississippi abortion law that prohibits abortion after the 15th week of a woman’s term. It includes exceptions for medical emergencies and fetal abnormality.
The case could be the biggest abortion case in decades – and perhaps as big as any case since Roe itself. It will be the first time the high court has heard oral arguments in an abortion case since the conservative bloc grew to six members with the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett.
Lower courts struck down the law as unconstitutional and pointed to Supreme Court decisions in Roe (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) as controlling. The high court, though, is not bound by its own precedent.
The Supreme Court in May agreed to take the case and said it would limit the scope to one question: Are all laws restricting pre-viability abortions unconstitutional? The court on Monday announced the Dec. 1 date.
Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, in a 49-page brief to the court this summer, asked the justices to overturn Roe.
Fitch, in a news release Monday, said her office was “looking forward to the opportunity” to “present our case.”
“The Court has acknowledged that states have the authority to promote legitimate interests, including protecting women’s health and defending life; but its abortion precedents have denied the people and their elected leaders the ability to fully do so,” Fitch said. “In fact, 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. With Dobbs, the Supreme Court can return decision-making about abortion policy to the elected leaders and allow the people to empower women and promote life.”
In her summer brief, Fitch told the court that “nothing in constitutional text, structure, history, or tradition supports a right to abortion.”
The Mississippi law’s findings note that the majority of abortion procedures performed after 15 weeks use a procedure (dilation and evacuation) that involves using instruments “to crush and tear the unborn child apart before removing the pieces of the dead child from the womb.”
“The Legislature,” the text says, “finds that the intentional commitment of such acts for nontherapeutic or elective reasons is a barbaric practice, dangerous for the maternal patient, and demeaning to the medical profession.”
Photo courtesy: ©William Murphy/Pixabay
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.