WASHINGTON – Abortion providers urged the Supreme Court on Monday to reject Mississippi’s 15-week ban on most abortions, saying a decision to uphold it “would call on states to ban abortion altogether.”
The High Court filing comes at a time when abortion rights are under serious threat in the United States, with a Supreme Court reshuffled by three conservative justices appointed by former President Donald Trump.
Mississippi has previously told the court it should overturn its 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade who established a national right to abortion.
Less than two weeks ago, judges, by a 5: 4 vote, allowed Texas law banning abortions to go into effect once medical professionals can detect heart activity, usually around six weeks. The court did not rule on the merits of the law, which the Biden administration and Texas clinics challenged in federal court.
If the court upholds Mississippi law, it will quickly lead to the elimination of abortion services in large parts of the Midwest and South, where states have aggressively enforced abortion restrictions, providers told the court. .
Mississippi’s legal position is “a demand that the court undermine a half-century of precedent and call on states to ban abortion altogether,” the providers wrote.
The change in the composition of the tribunal appears to lead the case to overturn Roe. The court had dismissed the state’s appeals against similar laws in the past.
Among those appointed by Trump, Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett occupied the seats previously held by Anthony Kennedy and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, judges who voted in favor of the right to abortion. Kavanaugh was once Kennedy’s legal assistant.
But the composition of the tribunal is not enough to justify a radical change in the law, the providers wrote.
“Unless the Court is seen to represent nothing more than the preferences of its current members, it is essential that judicial protection remains firm in the absence of the most dramatic and unexpected changes in law or in fact,” wrote the providers.
A day earlier, Barrett and Judge Stephen Breyer, the leader of the court’s diminished Liberal wing, argued in separate appearances that it was wrong to view the court on partisan terms.
Barrett was among the conservative justices who allowed Texas law to come into effect.
Mississippi’s 15-week law was enacted in 2018, but was blocked after a federal court challenge. The state’s only abortion clinic, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, remains open and offers abortions up to 16 weeks pregnant. About 100 abortions per year are performed after the 15th week, providers said.
More than 90 percent of abortions in the United States take place in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The state said its law would not affect many women, but providers responded by saying that this argument “contradicts the recognition of constitutional rights in general.” The essence of a constitutional right is that the government cannot outright prohibit a certain subset of people, no matter how small, from exercising that right. “
The case has not yet been scheduled for arguments, which could take place in late fall or early winter. A decision is not expected until June, and the outcome could be a problem in state and congressional campaigns next year.