In March 2018, Mississippi’s then-Gov. Phil Bryant (R) signed a bill into law that protected children from abortion after 15 weeks gestation. The legislation quickly faced legal challenges that have since managed to make it to the U.S. Supreme Court for a final ruling.
According to Politico, SCOTUS justices announced this week that they plan to hear arguments for Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which many believe could be a landmark decision, on Dec. 1. Those on both sides of the abortion debate predict it could have historic implications.
What’s going on?
In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Supreme Court ruled that states may not impose an “undue burden” on women seeking an abortion prior to viability.
Children are generally considered to be viable at 24 weeks, although some have survived earlier. In 2015, Trevor Frolek went home after being successfully delivered at 23 weeks. Proponents of the Mississippi law say that medical science has advanced to the point where babies can live at the 15-week mark.
While Mississippi’s law clearly differs from the standard set in 1973 by the Roe ruling, opponents of abortion agree that the nation’s highest court could use the case as an opportunity to go further and overturn its holding in Roe v. Wade that the Constitution protects the right of women to have abortions.
The Supreme Court’s announcement of a Dec. 1 trial date comes just over four months after Politico reported that the high court had agreed to consider the Mississippi case.
Jeanne Mancini, a former health official in President George W. Bush’s administration who currently serves as president of March for Life, welcomed the SCOTUS announcement. “States should be allowed to craft laws that are in line with both public opinion on this issue as well as basic human compassion, instead of the extreme policy that Roe imposed,” Mancini said.
Meanwhile, it was noted that abortion advocates are nervous about the Supreme Court’s decision to rule on the case, with Center for Reproductive Rights president Nancy Northup warning of a “threat to reproductive rights.”
Politico reported in July that in its brief, Mississippi explicitly called on the court to overturn Roe, although Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch (R) acknowledged that “the questions presented in this petition do not require the Court” to do so.
Still, the AG insisted that America’s “national fever on abortion can break only when this Court returns abortion policy to the states.”
A final ruling in the much-anticipated case is expected to be announced sometime in the summer of 2022, which means it will likely have implications for candidates running in the 2022 midterm elections.
Only time will tell if former President Donald Trump’s three conservative SCOTUS appointees rule in favor of protecting human life, but make no mistake: This case will be one for the ages, no matter what the final outcome is.