Roe v. Wade: Supreme Court justices signal they may allow new abortion limits

WASHINGTON – Six conservative Supreme Court justices, upon hearing the biggest challenge to abortion rights in decades, indicated that they would uphold Mississippi’s law banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The conservative majority on the nine-member court on Wednesday signaled it would allow states to ban abortions much earlier in pregnancy and could even overturn a nationwide right that has existed for nearly 50 years. year.

With hundreds of protesters outside shouting in support and opposition, the judges made arguments that could decide the fate of the historic 1973 Roe v. Wade court decision to legalize abortion. Nationwide and the 1992 ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which reaffirmed Roe.

Results will probably not be known until next June. But after nearly two hours of debate, six conservative judges, including three appointed by former President Donald Trump, said they would support the Mississippi law. At the very least, such a decision would weaken Roe and Casey, which allows states to regulate but not ban abortions until the fetus is still alive, at around 24 weeks.

There is also considerable support among conservative judges to remove Roe and Casey altogether. Judge Clarence Thomas was the only member of the court to have publicly called for the two cases to be handled.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a Trump appointee, asked whether the court should withdraw entirely from the abortion issue and let the states decide.

“Why should this court be the arbiter instead of Congress, the state legislatures, the state supreme court who can deal with this?” Kavanaugh asked. “And there will be different answers in Mississippi and New York, different answers in Alabama than in California.”

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that advocates for abortion rights, abortion will soon become illegal or severely restricted in about half of the states if Roe and Casey are exposed. Legislatures in many Republican-led states are poised to act depending on the Supreme Court’s decision. On Wednesday, the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit overturned previous rulings that had blocked a Tennessee law that included banning abortions when a fetal heartbeat was detected – about six weeks – and asked the court to full trial.

People of color and less means will be disproportionately affected, abortion rights advocates say.

The court’s three liberal justices said that reversing Roe and Casey would significantly damage the court’s legitimacy.

“Can this institution survive the stench this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are purely political?” Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked.

In unusually strong terms for high court argument, Judge Stephen Breyer warned his colleagues that they “better to be sure” before they throw away abortion decisions has been set.

Opinion polls show support for the preservation of Roe, although some surveys also show support for greater restrictions on abortion.

Among conservatives, Chief Justice John Roberts appeared most interested in a less sweeping ruling that would uphold the Mississippi law but not explicitly deny Roe and Casey.

“That may be what they’re asking for, but the issue at hand before us today is 15 weeks,” Roberts said, referring to Mississippi’s call to roll back the broad cases. greater than upholding its own laws.

More than 90 percent of abortions are performed in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy, before they become viable, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About 100 patients a year have an abortion after 15 weeks at the Jackson, Mississippi Women’s Health Organization Single Abortion Clinic. The facility does not provide abortions after 16 weeks.

Even maintaining a 15-week ban would mean rejecting a decades-old limit. Abortion rights advocates say that would effectively overturn the Roe situation and leave no principled boundaries on when to ban abortion.

Justice Neil Gorsuch, another Trump appointee, suggested that the lack of a rigorous alternative could be a reason to completely replace Roe and Casey.

“You emphasize that if 15 weeks is passed, then we will have cases of about 12 and 10 and 8 and 6, and so my question is, is there a line in that that the government believes will there be principles,” Gorsuch asked Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, the Biden management attorney who supports the Mississippi clinic.

“I don’t think there is any line that can be more principled than viability,” says Prelogar.

Supporters of both sides of the abortion debate filled the sidewalks and streets in front of the court, their verbal protests audible even from inside the building. Protest signs read sentiments like “Her body was her choice” and “God hates the shedding of innocent blood.” The court has stepped up security measures, including closing some streets around the building.

Perhaps in recognition of the gravity of the problem at hand, the judges sat on the bench at 10 p.m. without any of the smiles or private jokes they sometimes shared.

The case that went to a court with a 6-3 conservative majority was transformed by judges named Trump -Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

A month ago, judges also heard arguments about a uniquely designed Texas law that succeeded in settling Roe and Casey’s decisions and banning abortion in the nation’s second-largest state after about six weeks pregnant. The legal dispute over Texas law revolves around whether it can be challenged in federal court, rather than the right to an abortion.

The court has yet to issue a ruling on the Texas law, and the judges have refused to hold it while the matter is under legal review.

The Mississippi case raises more central questions about abortion rights. State Attorney General Scott Stewart said Roe and Casey “haunt our country” and “have no basis in the Constitution.”

He compared those decisions to Plessy v. Ferguson, the infamous 1896 Supreme Court ruling that justified formal segregation before it was criticized by Brown v. Board of Education 58 years later.

“We are making 50 years of Roe. It was a seriously wrong decision that has caused enormous damage to our country and will continue to do so and take countless lives unless and for until this court handles it,” he said.

The Mississippi Clinic argues that those two cases were correctly decided and trusted by women and their partners for nearly half a century, a view also made by Justice Elena Kagan.

The decision to have abortions is “part of what makes women in this country,” she said.

Barrett approaches the issue of women’s dependence on abortion regulations from a different perspective. She suggests that so-called safe-haven laws in all 50 states that allow mothers to give up parental rights mean that women cannot be forced into motherhood, which could limit employment and other opportunities.

“Why don’t safe haven laws address that?” she asked.

Barrett, with a long personal record of opposing abortion, admits that courts still have to deal with the issue of forcing women to become pregnant against their will.

She describes such pregnancy as “an invasion of the body’s autonomy, you know, that we encounter in other contexts, like vaccines.”

Copyright © 2021 by Associated Press. Copyright Registered. Roe v. Wade: Supreme Court justices signal they may allow new abortion limits

Dais Johnston

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