The majority Conservative court will decide whether states can ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to consider a major setback to abortion rights, saying it will decide whether states can ban abortion before a fetus can survive outside the womb.
Monday’s court order establishes a clash over abortion, likely in the fall (as of September), with a more conservative court seemingly willing to dramatically alter nearly 50 years of abortion rights rulings.
The court first announced a woman’s constitutional right to abortion in the 1973 Roe v Wade decision and reaffirmed it 19 years later.
The abortion rights advocacy group, NARAL Pro-Choice America, described the court’s decision as “a direct challenge to Roe against Wade, opening the door to this conservative and anti-election (Supreme Court) majority to overthrow Roe.”
The case involves a Mississippi Law which would prohibit abortion after the fifteenth week of pregnancy. The state ban had been blocked by lower courts as it was inconsistent with a Supreme Court precedent that protects a woman’s right to obtain an abortion before the fetus can survive outside her womb.
“(The) law in question in the case of abortion (Mississippi) prohibits abortion after 15 weeks, except in cases of medical emergency with severe fetal abnormality. These laws have broad public support in this country and they are widely distributed in Europe, “Ed Whelan, a member of the Center for Ethics and Public Policy, told Reuters news agency.
The judges had postponed the action on the case for several months. Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, abortion rights advocate, he died just before the new court term begins in October. His replacement, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, is the most open opponent of abortion rights to join the court in decades.
Barrett is one of three President Donald Trump nominees to the Supreme Court. The other two, Judges Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, voted against last year to allow Louisiana to apply restrictions to doctors who could have closed two of the state’s three abortion clinics.
Chief Justice John Roberts, along with Ginsburg and the other three Liberal judges, said the restrictions were virtually identical to a Texas law that the court abatut in 2016.
But that majority no longer exists, even if Roberts, barely an advocate for abortion rights in his more than 15 years in court, sided with the more liberal judges.
Mississippi law was enacted in 2018, but it did locked after a judicial challenge. The state’s only abortion clinic remains open. The owner has said the clinic performs abortions for up to 16 weeks.
The case is separate from a fight for laws enacted by Mississippi and other states that would ban most abortions as early as six weeks, when a fetal heartbeat can be detected.
A central issue in the case is about viability: whether a fetus can survive outside the woman at 15 weeks. The clinic presented evidence that viability is impossible at 15 weeks and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals of the United States said the state “recognized that it had not identified any medical evidence that a fetus was viable in the 15 weeks “.
Mississippi law would allow exceptions to the 15-week ban in cases of medical emergency or severe fetal abnormality. Physicians who violate the ban would be required to suspend or revoke medical licenses.