As Mississippi Abortion Case Heads to Supreme Court, Dem Warns of Revolution if Roe v Wade Repealed
In a case that is anticipated to impact future abortion access across America, the US Supreme Court is to hear oral arguments on Wednesday in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, concerning a Mississippi law prohibiting abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) has warned that a “revolution” might be triggered if the conservative majority Supreme Court were to overturn the landmark 1973 judgement, referred to as the Roe v Wade case that enshrined the right for women to choose to have an abortion
before a fetus is viable, generally about 23 or 24 weeks into pregnancy.
“I hope the Supreme Court is listening to the people of the United States because … I think if you want to see a revolution go ahead, outlaw Roe v. Wade and see what the response is of the public, particularly young people. Because I think that will not be acceptable to young women or young men,” she said during a virtual event featuring the New Hampshire House and Senate delegation.
The Democratic senator’s remarks came as justices prepared to hear oral arguments on Wednesday in a highly anticipated case, Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which focuses on whether the state of Mississippi can ban abortion at 15 weeks gestation, which has triggered concerns over its potential to overturn existing precedent on the issue.
It is named for Dr. Thomas Dobbs, the head of Mississippi’s health department, and the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Mississippi’s last abortion clinic, with the court expected to issue a decision on the case in June 2022. Shaheen in a separate statement cited by Fox News reiterated her stance:
“We cannot allow Republican lawmakers to turn back the clock on women’s reproductive health and rights, which is precisely what the Mississippi case seeks to do. It is time to sound the alarm.”
According to the democrat, Roe v. Wade is more than a decision that “impacts women, their health and their financial security” as it also “impacts generations of families”. Shaheen's colleague, Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., at the same event, called the Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy - about two months earlier than Roe and later decisions allow - "a direct attack on decades of precedent".
The Supreme Court is also separately taking up disputes over Texas’ highly contested abortion law
, signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in May, which bars the procedure at around six weeks of pregnancy, at a point that many women are not even aware they are pregnant. The law, known as Senate Bill 8, amounts to a nearly complete ban on abortion in the entire state. The court had been asked to block the law from taking effect in September, but voted 5-4 against doing so.
Roe v Wade Precedent
It is the first time the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case over a “pre-viability” abortion ban. Abortion advocates are cited as considering the fact it accepted the case for oral arguments as warning sign that Roe v Wade might be revisited. Republicans have long argued the case for Roe v. Wade
to be overturned.
Throughout the past summer, nearly 230 GOP lawmakers urged the high court to repeal it. On the eve of Supreme Court oral arguments in the Mississippi case, former Vice President Mike Pence hailed the potential implications of the upcoming ruling.
"As we stand here today, we may well be on the verge of an era when the Supreme Court sends Roe v. Wade to the ash heap of history where it belongs," Pence said at a National Press Club gathering hosted by anti-abortion group the Susan B. Anthony List.
This stance was reiterated by a group of Senate Republicans. Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD) on Tuesday voiced the hope that the Supreme Court would “right a very serious wrong” by ruling on Roe v. Wade.
“The 1973 decision was wrongly decided. And as has been pointed out, the decision, if it is overturned, does not eliminate abortion. It simply returns that to the states,” said Thune.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) agreed, as she indicated that only seven countries in the world - the US, Canada, China, the Netherlands, North Korea, Singapore, and Vietnam - allow abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
The Mississippi law
that will be reviewed by the court makes most abortions illegal after 15 weeks of pregnancy, about two months earlier than Roe and later decisions allow. Most experts estimate fetal viability to be about 24 weeks. The law was enacted in 2018 by the Republican-dominated Mississippi Legislature but never went into effect because of an immediate legal challenge that led to a federal appellate court blocking its enforcement.
The law bans abortions if “the probable gestational age of the unborn human” is determined to be more than 15 weeks, with exceptions for medical emergencies or “a severe fetal abnormality”. Arguing its case, the state insisted that while the fetus made important physiological developments by 15 weeks, abortions themselves are riskier to the mother at this stage of pregnancy.
The Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the state’s only abortion clinic - provided evidence to a federal appeals court that fetal viability is impossible at 15 weeks. However, the appellate court affirmed a lower-court ruling blocking the law. Accordingly, it claimed that abortion was a right until a fetus is considered viable.
According to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 93 percent of abortions in Mississippi in 2018 were performed before 14 weeks of gestation, and 75 percent were before 10 weeks.
In May, the court, with its 6-to-3 conservative majority
, after Justice Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who had died, agreed to hear the Mississippi case. If Roe v Wade were overturned, abortion advocates believe that 26 states might move to make abortion illegal.
The Roe v Wade
Supreme Court 's ruling in 1973 came as a single woman, under the pseudonym "Jane Roe", challenged the abortion laws in Texas that forbade abortion as unconstitutional except in cases where the mother's life was in danger. Accordingly, the court’s decision was based on the premise that a woman's right to terminate her pregnancy fell under the freedom of personal choice in family matters as protected by the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution.