Supreme Court hears arguments on Mississippi abortion ban, potentially impacting Roe v. Wade

The Supreme Court will hear arguments involving a Mississippi law that banned abortion after 15 weeks ( This law was initially passed in March 2018, but was later blocked by a federal appellate court in November of the same year. The law argued that the fetus could only be aborted if there was a medical emergency or severe fetal abnormality. Abortion providers who violated this law could have their medical license suspended or revoked.

The primary argument made by the state of Mississippi is that abortion issues should be determined by each individual state, not by the federal government. Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch said, “[abortion] needs to be given back to the states. The unelected judiciary don't need to be making those decisions for us... We all elect our legislators... and then you know what? They're accountable.” Opponents of the law have argued that abortion is constitutionally protected and should not be handled by the federal or state legislatures.

While the Supreme Court had previously upheld Roe in 1992 with Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the makeup of the Court has changed significantly. During President Trump’s term he appointed three conservative judges: Justice Neil Gorsuch, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and Justice Amy Coney Barrett. This gives conservatives a solid 6 - 3 majority and strengthens the chances that the Mississippi law is upheld. This will also impact a recent Texas law which banned abortion after 6 weeks. If the Mississippi law is struck down then the Texas law falls with it, but if upheld the Court could move to hear arguments on the Texas law (they had previously refused to address the Texas law while the issue was under legal review).

As it currently stands, Texas has banned abortion after 6 weeks (barring legal review), Mississippi has banned abortion after 20 weeks, 15 states have banned abortion at 22 weeks (North Dakota and Idaho have also passed similar laws, but they are not currently in effect because of court orders), 4 states have banned abortion after 24 weeks, 19 states have banned abortion after fetal viability, and 7 states (Oregon, Alaska, Colorado, New Mexico, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Vermont) do not have any restrictions. Should the Supreme Court uphold the Mississippi law or does the precedent of the 1973 and 1992 cases stay in place? Should the judiciary determine abortion issues, or should this be a state issue?

Image Credit: SP Photo/Andrew Harnik

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