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U.S. Supreme Court takes up major challenge to abortion rights

19 Comments
By Lawrence Hurley

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to consider gutting the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, taking up Mississippi's bid to revive a Republican-backed state law that bans the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

By hearing the case in their next term, which starts in October and ends in June 2022, the justices will look at whether to overturn a central part of the landmark ruling, a longstanding goal of religious conservatives.

The eventual ruling by the conservative-majority court, expected next year, could allow states to ban abortions before a fetus is viable outside the womb, upending decades of legal precedent. Lower courts ruled against Mississippi's law.

In the Roe v. Wade decision, subsequently reaffirmed in 1992, the court said that states could not ban abortion before the viability of the fetus outside the womb, which is generally viewed by doctors as between 24 and 28 weeks. The Mississippi law would ban abortion much earlier than that. Other states have backed laws that would ban the procedure even earlier.

"Alarm bells are ringing loudly about the threat to reproductive rights. The Supreme Court just agreed to review an abortion ban that unquestionably violates nearly 50 years of Supreme Court precedent and is a test case to overturn Roe v. Wade," said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is among those challenging the law.

Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, a Republican, said she is committed to defending the law's constitutionality.

"The Mississippi legislature enacted this law consistent with the will of its constituents to promote women's health and preserve the dignity and sanctity of life. I remain committed to advocating for women and defending Mississippi's legal right to protect the unborn," Fitch said.

The Roe v. Wade ruling recognized that a constitutional right to personal privacy protects a woman's ability to obtain an abortion. The court in its 1992 decision, coming in the case Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, reaffirmed the ruling and prohibited laws that place an "undue burden" on a woman's ability to obtain an abortion.

Abortion opponents are hopeful the Supreme Court will narrow or overturn the Roe v. Wade decision. The court has a 6-3 conservative majority following the addition last year of Republican former President Donald Trump's third appointee, Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that Democratic President Joe Biden's administration is committed to defending abortion rights. Psaki said abortion and access to healthcare have come under "withering and extreme attack" in recent years including through "draconian state laws."

LOUISIANA RULING

The Supreme Court in a 5-4 June 2020 ruling struck down a Louisiana law that imposed restrictions on doctors who perform abortions. The late liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was still on the court at the time, and conservative Chief Justice John Roberts voted with the court's liberal wing in the ruling. Roberts, however, made it clear that he voted that way because he felt bound by the court's 2016 ruling striking down a similar Texas law.

The 2018 Mississippi law, like others resembling it passed by Republican-led states, was enacted with full knowledge that was a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade.

After the only abortion clinic in Mississippi, Jackson Women's Health Organization, sued to block the measure, a federal judge in 2018 ruled against the state. The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2019 reached the same conclusion.

"States may regulate abortion procedures prior to viability so long as they do not impose an undue burden on the woman's right, but they may not ban abortions. The law at issue is a ban," 5th Circuit Judge Patrick Higginbotham wrote.

Abortion remains a divisive issue in the United States, as in many countries. Christian conservatives are among those most opposed to it. U.S. abortion rates have steadily declined since the early 1980s, reaching the lowest levels on record in recent years, according to the nonprofit Guttmacher Institute.

Jeanne Mancini, president of the anti-abortion group March for Life, said a ruling limiting abortion to early pregnancy would be in line with many other countries.

The Louisiana case ruling marked the court's first major abortion decision since Trump appointed Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 and Neil Gorsuch in 2017 as justices. Both voted in favor of Louisiana's restrictions. If Barrett were to vote on similar lines, conservatives could have a majority to curb abortion rights regardless of how Roberts votes. Trump promised during the 2016 presidential race to appoint justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade.

The Mississippi appeal had been pending at the court since June 2020. During that time, Ginsburg died and was replaced by Barrett and Trump lost his re-election bid, to be replaced by Biden, who supports abortion rights.

© Thomson Reuters 2021.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

19 Comments

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Conservatives fighting to limit people’s rights as much as possible. We see them doing it with the right to vote, too. The same people screaming they shouldn’t be forced to wear a mask because, “it’s my body!” Repugnant.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Nobody likes abortions. There are 3 realistic solutions to avoid abortions:

a) Massively subsidized long-term birth control actually saves the govt money. $800 cost to the state is much less than the $$thousands/month for a single mother to raise a child.

b) Morning-after pill, "Plan B", is $50.

c) RU-486 with medical consultation before the 11th week of pregnancy. No pricing available.

d) Abortion for as long as is safe to for the mother. Any hospital that accepts state or federal money should be required to perform abortions. Cost can be $0 - $1500.

e) Adoption commitments from all the people who are anti-abortion. Step up. Take care of the babies.

Life isn't always neat and planned. The last people who should be making these decisions are old men.

People who are anti-abortion and pro-death penalty are hypocrites. Same for pro-abortion and anti-death penalty people. Babies didn't do any thing wrong, but most people in line for the death penalty ARE guilty of heinous crimes. Forgiveness for proven murderers, but not for innocent babies?

7 ( +7 / -0 )

@theFu: Spot on.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

3 realistic? Clearly a typo ... er ... "5 realistic" is better. Got on a roll. Sorry. ;)

6 ( +6 / -0 )

P. SmithToday  07:26 am JST

@theFu: Spot on.

And better sex education in schools. Emphasize that if you can't feed 'em, don't breed 'em.

The anti-abortion crowd spreads the most insulting hysterical lies about what abortion really is and how it's done, and yes there's the 'my body' crowd as well.

Abortion was banned in Communist Romania, resulting in dead babies and fetuses in trash cans and dead moms. Do we really want that? I don't.

Note that with everything else going on in America like now (like a recent putzt attempt by a pack of fascists) there's this issue to wag around and get everybody's gums a-flapping and shouting again. The old diversionary trick and I am sick of it. First things first, idiots.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The new abortion push is a solution to a problem that doesn’t really exist.

Old men and crazy religious fanatics telling a woman what she can and cannot do with her body.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Too bad Republicans don't think that life continues after birth...

If the anti-abortion crowd actually was against abortion, they would be strong supporters of (real) sex education and birth control. But as we all know, the object of their activism has little to do with life, but only with subjugation of women.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

GdTokyoToday  07:44 am JST

The new abortion push is a solution to a problem that doesn’t really exist.

Old men and crazy religious fanatics telling a woman what she can and cannot do with her body.

It does exist but it's not a problem, it's an issue. Still, since women are the ones experiencing all the crazy funky biological/chemical internal changes during pregnancy, birth and afterwards (such as postnatal depression), we don't they ask the women about these issues? And of course there are the factors of the pregnancy being due to rape and/or incest which are hideous destructive crimes (or so I thought). i remember in the early 90s the 'conservative' fave Barbara Bush mentioning that. And what if the mother's life is endangered somehow?

I personally don't like abortion but these factors need to be looked at. And before we tackle the unborn issues, we need to tackle the issues concerning the born. And as long as the loudmouths spout off LIES like 'every year in America there are more abortions than deaths in the WW2 Holocaust' (yes, I heard a priest say that for real), nothing will ever get settled.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Conservatives fighting to limit people’s rights as much as possible.

That’s not exactly true….

The Supreme Court has agreed to take a major abortion case from Mississippi over a ban on most abortions after 15 weeks next term.

We see them doing it with the right to vote,

No, everyone can vote as long as they do it legally and with an ID

The same people screaming they shouldn’t be forced to wear a mask because, “it’s my body!” Repugnant.

Actually not, dismembering a full term human and wearing a mask because it impedes on your breathing are two totally different situations.

The anti-abortion crowd spreads the most insulting hysterical lies about what abortion really is and how it's done, and yes there's the 'my body' crowd as well.

So basically you are implying the average person doesn’t have access to books or the internet? In other words only liberals are blessed with aces to these technologies? Interesting….

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Same for pro-abortion and anti-death penalty people. Babies didn't do any thing wrong, but most people in line for the death penalty ARE guilty of heinous crimes.

I completely agree with everything you said, except this part. Thinking about a 2 weeks-old fetus as a "baby" is not exactly scientifically honest. Of course a fetus didn't "do anything wrong", because it literally can't do anything. It's just an embryo. By week 4, it's still 0.04 inches at best. There's little wrong you can do when you're smaller than a grain of rice. You can't do any good either. You can't do anything because you barely exist.

As for the death penalty, I think Batman, of all people, said it best: "if you kill a killer, the number of killers in the world remains the same".

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Actually not, dismembering a full term human and wearing a mask because it impedes on your breathing are two totally different situations.

The vast majority of abortions are not “late term,” which you do emotionally described, so your analysis here is way off. Also, the vast majority of people do not have their breathing impeded by a mask; it’s actual quite rare, so your analysis is even further off.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

So basically you are implying the average person doesn’t have access to books or the internet? In other words only liberals are blessed with aces to these technologies? Interesting….

This isn’t a logical inference from the post to which you are replying.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Actually not, dismembering a full term human 

"Full-term" designates a 39 to 40 weeks-old baby.

Are you under the impression that there are a lot of abortions of 40 weeks-old babies? Where exactly did you get that information?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Banning abortion doesn't stop it, it just makes it illegal and unsafe.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Banning abortions pushes them into the back streets and more women will die.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The vast majority of abortions are not “late term,”

There should be none at all, only in extreme circumstances, that’s the point I was making

which you do emotionally described,

When it comes to dismembering a full-term child, yes.

so your analysis here is way off.

No, I watched how the procedure is done, no, it’s not way off, it’s traumatic and spot on.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

that’s the point I was making

No, that's not the point you were making. The point you were making is "doctors are dismembering full grown babies".

No, I watched how the procedure is done

Pray tell, where and when exactly did you watch abortions procedures? Are they a public event where you live?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

No, that's not the point you were making.

No, that’s EXACTLY the point I was making, I was specific.

Pray tell, where and when exactly did you watch abortions procedures?

Liberals are not the only ones with access to social media.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Jsapc: No, that's not the point you were making. The point you were making is "doctors are dismembering full grown babies".

You're somewhat new here and we don't see a lot of abortion articles so I'll help you.

It's bass' opinion that nearly all abortions are babies that are taken to full term, and it's his opinion that the laws the GOP are trying to pass specifically relate to aborted babies at full term.

Use that lens to understand his comments. Hope that helps.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

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