News Articles

Supreme Court sets arguments in Mississippi abortion law case

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Supreme Court will hear arguments Dec. 1 in a Mississippi law that could challenge the landmark Roe v. Wade.

The court issued its arguments calendar for late November and early December on Monday (Sept. 20).

Mississippi is asking the high court to uphold its ban on most abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy. The state has told the court it should overrule Roe and the 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey that prevent states from banning abortion before viability, the point at which a fetus can survive outside the womb, around 24 weeks of pregnancy.

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) signed onto a friend-of-the-court brief in the case July 27 that calls for the reversal of both Roe and Casey. The ERLC and five other organizations joined in a brief filed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“For too long, the Roe and Casey decisions have allowed our nation to turn a blind eye to the plight of those who have no voice,” said Chelsea Sobolik, the ERLC’s acting director of public policy, in July comments to Baptist Press. “Our brief asks the Court to overturn those two cases and set a new precedent that respects every life.

“With each passing day, more and more people recognize preborn lives are worthy of protection. The Dobbs case provides another chance for the Court to come to that same conclusion and affirm the fundamental right to life.”

The court recently allowed a Texas law to take effect that bans abortions after a heartbeat can be detected, around six weeks into a pregnancy. The law is unusual in that it allows private citizens to sue people who may have facilitated a prohibited abortion. The court, split 5-4, did not rule on the constitutionality of the law, but rather declined to block enforcement while a challenge to the law plays out in the courts.

The Mississippi law was enacted in 2018, but was blocked after a federal court challenge. The state’s only abortion clinic, Jackson Women’s Health Organization, remains open and offers abortions up to 16 weeks into pregnancy. About 100 abortions a year are done after the 15th week, the providers said.

The justices will be at their seats in the marble courtroom for the biggest test of Roe v. Wade in decades.

The high court announced earlier this month that the justices plan to return to their majestic, marble courtroom for arguments beginning in October, more than a year and a half after the in-person sessions were halted because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The court is allowing live audio of the session, but members of the public will not be able to attend in person because of the pandemic. Reporters who cover the court regularly will be present.

The justices all have been vaccinated, the court has said, allowing a return to in-person arguments after more than a year of arguments via telephone. The courthouse remains closed to the public.

The justices had been hearing cases by phone during the pandemic.

From The Associated Press. May not be republished.