USA

Mississippi asks the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade

"The conclusion that abortion is a constitutional right has no basis in text, structure, history, or tradition" state Attorney General Lynn Fitch told the justices in a new brief, launching the opening salvo in the most important abortion-related dispute the court has heard in decades.

Fitch said that the case for overruling Roe is "overwhelming."

Roe v. Wade is the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion nationwide prior to viability, which can occur at around 24 weeks of pregnancy.
The case reignites the debate surrounding abortion and comes as states across the country, emboldened by the conservative majority and the addition of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the high court, are increasingly passing restrictive abortion related regulations hoping to curb the constitutional right first established in 1973 in Roe and reaffirmed in 1992 when the court handed down Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

The justices deliberated for months whether to take up the Mississippi dispute, finally announcing their decision last spring and sending shock waves to groups supporting abortion rights who are fearful that the conservative majority -- bolstered with three of President Donald Trump's appointees -- will upend long-established constitutional protections for access to abortion.

Oral arguments will likely be heard in the late fall or early winter with a decision expected by next June in advance of the midterm elections.

Mississippi's Gestational Age Act, passed in 2018 but blocked by two federal courts, allows abortion after 15 weeks "only in medical emergencies or for severe fetal abnormality" and has no exception for rape or incest. If doctors perform abortions outside the parameters of the law they will have their medical license suspended or revoked and may be subject to additional penalties and fines.

A district court blocked the law in a decision affirmed by a federal appeals court.

"In an unbroken line dating to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court's abortion cases have established (and affirmed and re-affirmed) a woman's right to choose an abortion before viability," a panel of judges on the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals said in December of 2019. "States may regulate abortion procedures prior to viability so long as they do not ban abortions," the court held and concluded "the law at issue is a ban."

The Center for Reproductive Rights is representing Jackson Women's Health Organization, the only licensed abortion facility in Mississippi, and the clinic's medical director, Sacheen Carr-Ellis, who are challenging the law. Lawyers for the Center will respond to Mississippi's appeal later this year.

Last year the group had urged the justices to allow the lower court opinion to stand, arguing that Supreme Court precedent makes clear that before viability "it is up to the pregnant person, and not the State, to make the ultimate decision whether to continue a pregnancy."

This story is breaking and will be updated.

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