Abortion law in peril
The law, measured against other legislation passed in recent years, nonetheless violates the legal framework set by the Supreme Court. By agreeing to review it, the high court has sent a signal that it is ready to reconsider.
Noting this precedent, federal courts blocked the Mississippi law before it went into effect. Officials in the rural, religious state then turned to the Supreme Court.
“We are aware of the impact of our request,” noted state Attorney General Lynn Fitch in an op-ed published in the Washington Post. “But, 49 years ago, the Court favoured political intuition over sound legal reasoning in reaching a conclusion that has no constitutional basis, and it is time to correct that mistake.”
Roe v. Wade “in the dustbin of history”
All echelons of the Republican Party have thrown their support behind him, as well as the Catholic Church and numerous anti-abortion groups, some of which spent millions of dollars on ad campaigns before the hearing. All believe their time has come, after a half-century of judicial and political struggle.
“We are about to enter a new era, where the Supreme Court will send Roe v. Wade back into the dustbin of history, from which it should never have been removed,” said former Vice President Mike Pence, an ultraconservative Christian, on the eve of the hearing.
Opponents of abortion are galvanized by the arrival of three justices appointed by former President Donald Trump to the Supreme Court, who have strengthened his conservative majority.
Their influence was already felt on Sept. 1, when the U.S. legal temple refused on procedural grounds to block the enactment of a Texas law that bans abortion as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.
She has since reopened the case and expressed skepticism about the architecture of the law, but her final decision is still pending and many Texan women are still forced to leave their state to have an abortion.
If the viability requirement is dropped, “states will be able to ban abortions at any stage of pregnancy,” said Julie Rikelman, who will be arguing before the Nine Wise Men on behalf of the only abortion clinic in Mississippi.
According to the powerful family planning organization, Planned Parenthood, 28 states would do so, and 36 million women of childbearing age would be denied access to abortions.
Even without saying so, validating the Mississippi law “would be like overturning Roe,” says Julie Rikelman.