Wednesday morning, the United States Supreme Court heard a case that may profoundly affect abortion rights across the country. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization centers on a 2018 Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks. The Supreme Court seems prepared to uphold the Mississippi law. The Supreme Court’s ruling could also reverse the landmark Roe v. Wade case that protects the right to abortion nationwide.
Roe v. Wade, which was reaffirmed by the 1992 ruling of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, was a historic Supreme Court case in 1973. If a reversal were to take place, at least 20 of the 50 U.S. states would take action to make almost all abortions illegal. While we likely won’t know their ruling on Roe v. Wade until June, the six conservative justices on the court have expressed intentions of potentially reversing the decision.
As a part of the court’s ruling, the Mississippi attorney general has asked for a reversal on Roe v. Wade. Such a ruling would put abortion laws back in the hands of individual states. The Mississippi law would challenge the precedent of “fetal viability” that Roe v. Wade has set.
Fetal viability is the point at which a fetus can survive outside the womb. Under the current legislation, 22-24 weeks is when abortions can be legally restricted. However, if the court rules to uphold the Mississippi ban, which it has signaled it will, there would be legal precedent for 15 weeks as the point of viability. Regardless, the Supreme Court seems poised to make a transformative ruling in the nation’s abortion rights.
Case sparking an emotional response
Despite the weekday hearing, activists on both sides of the abortion debate assembled outside the court in Washington D.C. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden defended Roe v. Wade during a press conference at the White House. While the topic of abortion is always a lightning rod, the court’s ruling on this case is set to drastically shift the precedent for birthing rights in the United States. With conservatives holding a six to three majority on the nine-person court, millions of Americans will anxiously await a ruling.