Landmark Abortion Case Goes Before US Supreme Court 

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Activists and concerned citizens on both sides of America’s generations-long fight over abortion have rallied as a closely watched court case could transform reproductive rights nationwide and at a crucial stage could reach.

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On Wednesday, the US Supreme Court will hear arguments on the constitutionality of a 2018 Mississippi law that banned abortion procedures in the southern state after the first 15 weeks of pregnancy.

How conservative-leaning court rules might reinforce abortion rights across the U.S. or allow individual states to limit or potentially restrict the practice.

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In Mississippi, the center of the case before the High Court – Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization – sentiments are running high.

“I know women who have had abortions, and this decision is terrifying for them,” said Matthew Burke, a Gulfport resident in Mississippi who works for a nonprofit that rebuilds hurricane-damaged homes. does. “The decision has to be taken by them, and now the highest court of the country can take away that right on the basis of politics. this is madness.”

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FILE – In this May 21, 2019, file photo, abortion rights advocates hold signage at the Capitol in Jackson, Miss.

Many others disagree.

“The thought of taking a life, no matter how short, breaks my heart,” said Danielle Rodriguez of the state capital, Jackson. “I think there are extreme examples where maybe abortion should be allowed, but this law could help save children’s lives.”

The Mississippi law at the center of Wednesday’s debate is the Gestational Age Act. Passed in March 2018, it was immediately blocked from taking effect by two federal courts, which found the law unconstitutional. The Supreme Court will decide whether to uphold or reverse the decisions of the lower courts.

The Supreme Court also agreed to hear the case, according to Mary Ziegler, a legal historian and professor of law at Florida State University who supports abortion rights.

“They didn’t have to take the matter,” he said, alluding to the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that set out the constitutional right to abortion in America. “The Supreme Court could have done the same thing as the lower courts and said that Roe v. Wade had already settled it. Instead, they have agreed to hear arguments, which may mean that they think that They have enough conservative judges willing to reverse or re-interpret that decision.

a unique moment in time

In the 19th century, American states began to criminalize abortion. Over time, more restrictive and punitive laws were adopted, eventually leading to Roe v. Wade, in which a woman successfully challenged a Texas state law that prevented her from obtaining an abortion.

Writing for a 7-2 Supreme Court majority in 1973, Justice Harry Blackmun noted the “sensitive and emotional nature of the abortion controversy” but concluded that “the right to personal privacy includes a decision to have an abortion, but this right is not disqualifying and must be considered against significant state interests in regulation.”

“In 1973, the Supreme Court set the line on embryo viability,” Ziegler said. Viability refers to the ability of an embryo to survive outside the uterus. It is generally believed that embryonic viability begins at around 24 weeks or around six months.

“The court decided that a state should allow access to abortion up to that point. But that was a different court from this one,” Ziegler said, referring to the Supreme Court’s current 6-3 conservative majority. “(Former) President Trump nominated three conservative judges, and as a result, we haven’t had a Supreme Court this conservative in a very long time. It’s hard to predict what decision they’ll make.”

FILE - In this October 2, 2019 file photo, an anti-abortion singer sings to herself outside the Jackson Women's Health Organization clinic in Jackson, Miss.

FILE – In this October 2, 2019 file photo, an anti-abortion singer sings to herself outside the Jackson Women’s Health Organization clinic in Jackson, Miss.

Roe. Support for

Mississippi has been at the forefront of the debate since 2018 when the Gestational Age Act was passed. Billboards are trying to influence referendum line highways, while talk radio and social media amplify the discourse.

Some expect the Supreme Court to follow the lead of the lower courts and find the Act unconstitutional based on the precedent set by Roe v. Wade.

“I think the Supreme Court’s original finding that the right to abortion is protected by the ‘right to privacy’ of the Fourth Amendment is correct,” said Evan Ashe, a student living in Oxford, Mississippi. “I think any woman who wants an abortion should be able to have an abortion. I hope this court stays with that view.”

Many opponents of the act worry that it will put women’s lives at risk. According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group advocating abortion rights, the average distance a Mississippi woman can drive for an abortion will increase from 125 to more than 600 kilometers if the law goes into effect, as they would be required to travel. Will be To reach a clinic in the state.

Ash believes that women of color will be adversely affected if the Mississippi law is upheld.

“Mississippi is the blackest state in the country, and our public schools are not even allowed proper sex education, just abstinence,” he said. “It’s a huge cycle that produces an excessive amount of teen pregnancies and children who can’t be looked after, which creates more poverty.”

“Without access to legal abortion, I’m concerned that women are desperate, and may risk more dangerous methods[to terminate the pregnancy],” Ash said.

fetal rights

Others argue for the rights of the unborn and for establishing those rights earlier in the pregnancy. While the case before the Supreme Court originated in Mississippi, it has prompted a flood of television commercials elsewhere in the US, including the nation’s capital, where the judges who decided the case could possibly see them.

“Up to six weeks (in pregnancy), we can detect the heartbeat with ultrasound technology. By 15 weeks, they (fetus) can feel pain,” said an ad sponsored by Susan B. Anthony List, a non-profit anti-abortion group. “The scientific data on which Roe vs. Wade was based is archaic.”

Advertisement narrated by a doctor One who opposes abortion, continues, “The case from Mississippi to the Supreme Court imposing limits on late abortions is urgently needed. … We have a responsibility to stand up for the vulnerable and those who cannot speak for themselves.” “

Jackson, Mississippi, resident Danielle Rodriguez said, “I think liberals are wrong about many of us who are pro-life, we are not against a woman carrying a child.” “We’re obsessed with protecting the baby they’re carrying.”

possible outcomes

Ziegler doubts that the Supreme Court will find the Gestational Age Act outright unconstitutional.

“They’ve surprised us before, but if they’re going to make the same decision that the court did 50 years ago, why would they accept the case?” she wondered. “It’s likely that some change is coming.”

Does that change mean Roe v. Wade’s outright reversal, reducing the time period in which states must allow abortions from 24 weeks to 15 weeks, or any other form of restriction remains to be seen.

Ziegler said the court may now opt for incremental change, setting the stage for a more comprehensive change of reproductive rights in a future case.

“I think justices are very aware of optics right now,” she said. “They like to be seen as politics of the top, but they understand that they are being viewed cynically by many Americans at the moment. I wouldn’t be surprised if they do something broad on abortion in the years to come. Be careful with this decision.”

polling data

Gallup polling earlier this year found that 32% of respondents believe abortion should be legal under any circumstances, 19% believe abortion should be illegal under all circumstances and 48 % believes that abortion should be legal under certain circumstances. Such figures fluctuate from year to year, but a country divided on the question of abortion remains stagnant.

Should the Mississippi law survive Supreme Court review, other Republican-led states are set to enact restrictive abortion laws. While America may one day have a patchwork of abortion laws that vary widely from state to state, abortion opponents don’t budge.

“The Constitution is clear on the rights of the state(s) versus the federal government,” said Denver Mullican, a resident of Natchez, Mississippi. “These are for individual states to make decisions with input from medical experts.”

“It’s not an issue of state rights,” Ziegler replied. “It is a human rights issue. If you believe that access to abortion – even if it is bound by some time frame benchmark – should be with a right woman, then the Supreme Court is where this decision should be made. ,

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