The United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Wednesday, Dec.1 to overturn the monumental Roe v. Wade decision of 1973, that ensures women’s rights to an abortion.
The court hearing, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, poses a threat to the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that declared women with the constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy in the first six weeks of pregnancy. Fetal viability, the ability of a fetus to survive outside the womb, typically in 24 weeks of pregnancy, is a major argument in the case.
This is the first major abortion challenge since former President Donald Trump replaced Justices Anthony Kennedy and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose former votes upheld the Roe decision, with more conservative Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.
The Mississippi 2018 law, known as the Gestational Age Act, establishes fines, mandatory suspension or revocation to any physician who administers an abortion after 15 weeks of pregancy with no exceptions for rape or incest. The only exceptions for an abortion after 15 weeks would be severe fetal abnormality or a medical emergency.
Mississippi enacted a 15-week law in 2018, but was blocked by a panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which found it unconstitutional, due to medical science stating that fetal vitality becomes viable outside the womb at 24 weeks.
In May, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case and Dec. 1 was the date selected. The court’s announcement came weeks following the high court of Texas with a new law that bans abortion after the first activity of cardiac activity, before some women even know they are pregnant. The law also allows private citizens to sue those who may have helped with a prohibited abortion.
According to the Associated Press, Mississippi’s only abortion clinic, Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization, remains open and offers abortions up to 16-weeks of pregnancy.
Clinic director Shannon Brewer said about 10% of its abortions occur after the 15th week.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 90% of abortions take place in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy.
Mississippi State Attorney General Lynn Fitch said in July that Roe v. Wade should be overturned.
“As Mississippi’s chief legal officer, I am committed to preserving the rule of law, including defending the constitutionality of this statute,” Fitch said. “The Mississippi Legislature enacted this law consistent with the will of its constituents to promote women’s health and preserve the dignity and sanctity of life. I remain committed to advocating for women and defending Mississippi’s legal right to protect the unborn.”
The upcoming case has created much traction, especially among women athletes. Crissy Perham, a two-time gold medalist and captain of the 1992 Olympic Swim team, spoke out about the case this summer. Crissy experienced an unexpected pregnancy in 1990.
“This brief marks the first time I have publicly shared my abortion story,” said Perham. “When I was in college on a swimming scholarship, and on birth control, I became pregnant. I made the very personal decision to have an abortion, which empowered me to take control of my future. Others may have made a different decision in that situation, but my decision ultimately allowed me to become an Olympian, a college graduate and a proud mother today. That is what I’m fighting for — everyone to be afforded the freedom to make their own decisions about their bodies.”
On Nov. 28, Gov. Tate Reeves said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” with Chuck Todd, that there is no fundamental right under the constitution for an abortion. In his interview Reeves also talked about how the vaccine should not be federally mandated.
“This is a power grab by the federal government. We’ve seen this time and time again by the Biden administration,” Reeves said. “Now we’re seeing their strong desire to try to make decisions on behalf of individual Americans. We believe in freedom and individual liberty.”
However, when Todd transitioned the interview on behalf of the upcoming abortion case in Mississippi, he questioned Reeves’ previous statement.
“Freedom and individual liberty. Why should the state of Mississippi tell a woman what they should do with their body?” Todd said. “Why shouldn’t they have that individual freedom on their body, particularly in the first 20 weeks?”
Reeves then deflected the question about his belief in individual freedom for vaccines, but not abortions.
“The difference between vaccine mandates and abortions is vaccines allow you to protect yourself,” Reeves said. “Abortions actually go in and kill other American babies.”
All eyes and ears will be on Mississippi this Wednesday to watch how women’s bodily autonomy will be affected.
The court is allowing live audio, but the public will not be able to attend, due to COVID-19 risks.
The United States Supreme Court will hear arguments today concerning a Mississippi law that could result in overturning Roe v. Wade. An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the Mississippi Supreme Court will hear the case. We regret the error.