WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Abortion rights advocates on Monday urged the U.S. Supreme Court not to overturn the Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion nationwide – a 1973 landmark event put in jeopardy in the legal fight against Mississippis’ attempt to ban the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
FILE PHOTO: The United States Supreme Court is seen following an abortion ruling by the Texas Legislature, in Washington, United States, September 1, 2021. REUTERS / Tom Brenner
The fallout would be rapid and certain. As abortion bans are enforced – or the threat of enforcement looms – large swathes of the South and Midwest would likely be without access to legal abortion, lawyers for the Jackson Womens Health Organization said, the Mississippi’s only abortion clinic.
People would be hurt and chaos would ensue, even in states that claim not to directly ban abortion, the lawyers added.
The court case came in response to Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, a Republican, who said in court documents in July that the Roe v. Wade and a later 1992 ruling that affirmed it were both totally wrong.
The court has a conservative 6-3 majority.
The Mississippis court filing in July marked the first time the Republican-ruled state, in seeking to revive a law blocked by lower courts, made Roe v. Wade a central part of his argument. The 1973 ruling ended a time when some states had banned abortion.
Unless the tribunal is seen to represent nothing more than the preferences of its current members, it is essential that judicial protection remains firm in the absence of the most dramatic and unexpected changes of law or fact, Mississippi clinic attorneys said.
The central role of the Supreme Court in the fight for the right to abortion was highlighted on September 1. here abortion rights defenders.
The court agreed in May to take up the Mississippi case and will hear it in its mandate which will begin in October. Pleadings have not yet been scheduled, with a decision due by the end of June 2022.
It has been a longstanding goal of religious conservatives to overturn Roe v. Wade, who recognized that a constitutional right to privacy protects a woman’s ability to terminate a pregnancy. The court, in its 1992 decision, 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.
Roe v. Wade said states cannot ban abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb, which is generally considered by doctors to be between 24 and 28 weeks. Mississippi law, enacted in 2018, would ban abortion much sooner than that. Other states like Texas have backed laws that would ban it even earlier.
After the Jackson Womens Health Organization filed a lawsuit to block the 15-week ban, a federal judge in 2018 ruled against Mississippi. The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Court of Appeals in 2019 came to the same conclusion.
The Supreme Court in 2016 and 2020 struck down restrictive abortion laws in Texas and Louisiana, but new justices appointed by former Republican President Donald Trump have pushed the court even further to the right.
The Conservative majority in courts include the addition last year of Trump’s third person, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who in her Senate confirmation hearings declined to call Roe v. Wade a super precedent invulnerable to cancellation. Barrett replaced Liberal Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an abortion rights champion who died last year.
Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham
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