To begin the week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case that could make significant — potentially generational — changes to abortion access.
According to Fox News, the case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, has to do with a Mississippi law passed earlier this year that essentially bans abortions from about the 15-week mark of a pregnancy.
The specific question that the Supreme Court justices will be considering, according to SCOTUSBlog, is “whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.”
The case is one of two major abortion cases expected to be heard in the high court. The other covers a controversial anti-abortion law passed a few months ago in Texas.
First possible outcome
One of the possible outcomes of the case is overturning precedents set by Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the two landmark cases that essentially established a constitutional right for women to choose to have an abortion and set viability of the fetus as the general cut-off for state regulations.
This has been the Democrats’ biggest fear since former President Donald Trump nominated three conservative justices to the high court, giving conservatives a definite 5–3 majority. Chief Justice John Roberts has become somewhat of a wildcard, sometimes siding with the liberals, and sometimes with the conservatives.
Many experts, however, believe that this potential outcome — that is, overturning Roe and Casey — might be the most unlikely. Experts say this is because liberal justices certainly won’t do it and several of the conservatives have shown an unwillingness to rock the boat too much. Still, it is certainly a possibility that there could be surprises in store.
More potential outcomes
Another potential outcome is that the justices decide to strike down Mississippi’s law as unconstitutional, specifically citing a violation of Roe and Casey. That decision would re-entrench Roe and Casey, making it clear that a state cannot impose an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to abortion prior to a fetus’ viability outside of the womb.
The last potential result is that the justices might come out somewhere in the middle, creating a new standard for when a state can restrict access to abortions. This might limit Roe and Casey.
At this point, even the most experienced court watchers are largely unsure of which way the high court could lean on the issue, which has certainly ramped up suspense across the country, as precedents could be set one way or another.
Although oral arguments will be heard on Monday, a decision from the justices in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health is not expected until the summer of 2022, according to reports.
Some are arguing that this could affect the justices’ opinion considering that the decision will come right before the 2022 midterm elections.