‘You have to pick’: Conservative SCOTUS justices appear skeptical of abortion precedent 

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments this week in an abortion case that could ultimately result in a decades-long precedent being effectively overturned.

According to The Washington Times, the justices are considering a case regarding a Mississippi restriction on abortions performed after 15 weeks into gestation, which falls short of the widely accepted point of viability — or about 24 weeks. That precedent now faces an uncertain fate.

“The fundamental problem”

Conservative justices discussed the implications of abandoning the viability standard, including Chief Justice John Roberts, who pointed out that most European nations have restrictions similar to the disputed Mississippi law.

As for the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that essentially legalized abortion nationwide, Justice Brett Kavanaugh appeared to come the closest to advocating a full departure from that ruling.

He noted that the Constitution is “neither pro-life nor pro-choice on the question of abortion” so any Supreme Court decision should not fall along those lines.

The underlying dispute, Kavanaugh noted, is whether a woman’s interests should outweigh those of her unborn child. He acknowledged that this question had no easy answers.

“You can’t accommodate both interests,” the conservative justice said. “You have to pick. That’s the fundamental problem. One interest has to prevail over the other at any given point in time. That’s why this is so challenging.”

“Losing their minds”

Furthermore, Kavanaugh questioned whether the Supreme Court should be the “arbiter” of any related decision rather than “Congress, the state legislatures, state supreme courts, the people.”

Of course, pro-abortion advocates assert that it is a “fundamental right” that should not be infringed upon at any level.

In addition to the Roe decision, a 1992 ruling in the case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey further enshrined the supposed constitutional right to abortion. The issue has remained a controversial one throughout those decades, however, and it might ultimately come down to the Supreme Court once again to set a new precedent.

It remains to be seen whether the six conservatives on the court will ultimately make a decision to overturn prior decisions on the matter. That decision would certainly be unpopular in most progressive circles, but it might just be the most constitutionally correct one.

In any case, as Judicial Crisis Network President Carrie C. Severino predicted: “There are going to be people losing their minds over this case, whichever direction it goes.”

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