Abortion rights at stake in historic Supreme Court arguments

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Abortion rights are on the line in the Supreme Court in historic arguments over a landmark decision nearly 50 years ago that declared the nationwide right to terminate a pregnancy.

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On Wednesday, judges will weigh whether to uphold the Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks and overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.

Mississippi is also asking the court to set aside the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision, which confirmed Roe. Arguments can be heard live on the court’s website from 10 a.m. EST.


The case comes in a court with a 6-3 conservative majority that has been turned over by three appointees of President Donald Trump, who promised to appoint judges they said would oppose abortion rights.

The court had never agreed to hear a case on an abortion ban so early in pregnancy until all three Trump appointees — Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Connie Barrett — were on board.

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A month ago, judges also heard arguments over a uniquely designed Texas law that has succeeded in Roe and Casey’s rulings and banning abortions in the nation’s second-largest state after nearly six weeks of pregnancy. The controversy over the Texas law revolves around whether the law can be challenged in federal court, rather than the right to an abortion.

Despite an unusually quick consideration of the issue, the court has yet to rule on Texas law, and judges have refused to overturn the law during legal review.

The Mississippi case raises questions at the heart of abortion rights. Wednesday is likely to end some debate over whether the court should abandon its long-standing rule that states cannot ban abortions at about 24 weeks past the point of feasibility.

According to the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 90% of abortions are performed in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy well before viability.

Mississippi argues that feasibility is an arbitrary standard that does not adequately account for the state’s interest in regulating abortion. It also argues that scientific advances have allowed some babies to survive who were born before 24 weeks, although it does not argue that the line is anywhere near 15 weeks.

Only about 100 patients per year miscarry after 15 weeks at the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Mississippi’s only abortion clinic. This facility does not allow abortion after 16 weeks.

But the clinic argues that courts generally do not assess constitutional rights based on how many people are affected, and that judges should not do so in this case.

Incorporated by the Biden administration, the clinic also states that since Roe, the Supreme Court has consistently held that “the Constitution ‘guarantees’ a woman’s right to an abortion before practicability.”

The clinic says that erasing viability as the line between banning abortion and not doing so would effectively eliminate Roe and Casey, even if the judge explicitly did not do so.

Justice Clarence Thomas is the only member of the court to have openly called for the dismissal of Roe and Casey. One question is how many of his conservative allies are willing to join him.

The questions that the justices ask when they consider setting aside the previous judgment are not wrong, but seriously so.

It is a formulation that Kavanaugh has used in recent opinion, and Mississippi and several of her colleagues have devoted considerable space in their court filings to the argument that Roe and Casey fit the description of being grossly incorrect. .

“The conclusion that abortion is a constitutional right has no basis in text, structure, history, or tradition,” Mississippi says.

The clinic responds by arguing that the court considered and rejected the same arguments nearly 30 years earlier in Casey. Since then only the membership of the court has changed, argue the clinic and its partners.

In its earlier rulings, the court has enshrined the right to abortion in a 14th Amendment section that states that states “may not deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law.”

Same-sex marriage and other rights based on the same provision, but not explicitly mentioned in the constitution, could be threatened if Roe and Casey fell through, the administration argues. Mississippi and its supporters dispute that those other decisions would be at risk.

Abortion arguments will usually find people camping out for several days in front of the court in hopes of snatching away some of the few seats available to the public. But due to the closure of the courthouse due to COVID-19, the courtroom will be crowded with journalists, justice law clerks and only a handful of lawyers.

A decision is expected by the end of June, four months before next year’s congressional elections, and could become a campaign season rally cry.


Credit: www.independent.co.uk /

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