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Politics 'Roe' on the line as Supreme Court takes up abortion rights case

14:45  30 november  2021
14:45  30 november  2021 Source:   abcnews.go.com

Conflict over abortion laws won't abate if Roe v. Wade falls

  Conflict over abortion laws won't abate if Roe v. Wade falls On both sides of America’s abortion debate, activists are convinced that Roe v. Wade — the 1973 Supreme Court ruling establishing a nationwide right to abortion — is imperiled as never before. Yet no matter how the current conservative-dominated court handles pending high-profile abortion cases — perhaps weakening Roe, perhaps gutting it completely — there will be no monolithic, nationwide change. Fractious state-by-state battles over abortion access will continue. Roe's demise would likely prompt at least 20 Republican-governed states to impose sweeping bans; perhaps 15 Democratic-governed states would reaffirm support for abortion access.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday will consider a case that could fundamentally transform abortion rights in America by overturning Roe v. Wade and clearing the way for stringent new restrictions on abortion in roughly half the country.

"This is the most important Supreme Court case on abortion since Roe in 1973, and I don't think it's particularly close," said Sherif Girgis, Notre Dame law professor and former clerk to Justice Samuel Alito.

The justices will hear arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health over a Mississippi law that prohibits termination of pregnancies after 15 weeks. Lower courts have found the ban plainly unconstitutional under the half century of legal precedent since Roe and put it on hold.

Roe redux: Is 'viability' still viable as a constitutional doctrine?

  Roe redux: Is 'viability' still viable as a constitutional doctrine? The Supreme Court is on the eve of arguments in what could be the most consequential abortion case in decades.Dobbs has everything that you would need for a Roe-killing case. That does not mean the court will do so, but it could substantially reduce Roe's hold over states.

Fetal viability outside the womb -- around 24 to 26 weeks, according to medical experts -- has been the long-standing line before which states cannot ban abortions. Mississippi is asking the justices to eliminate that standard and allow each state to set its own policy.

"Roe v. Wade has hindered a healthy political dialogue about abortion, and perhaps most importantly, about how we as a society care for the dignity of women and children," said Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, who is leading defense of the state law.

In this July 29, 2021 file photo, Republican Attorney General Lynn Fitch speaks at the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia, Miss. © Rogelio V. Solis/AP, FILE In this July 29, 2021 file photo, Republican Attorney General Lynn Fitch speaks at the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia, Miss.

The case will be heard by a court whose conservative majority of justices is widely viewed as more sympathetic to opponents of abortion rights than any in a generation. The three most recently appointed justices were all elevated to the high court by former President Donald Trump with the express purpose of overturning Roe.

Justices' views on abortion in their own words and votes

  Justices' views on abortion in their own words and votes WASHINGTON (AP) — When the Supreme Court hears arguments Wednesday over whether Mississippi can ban abortions after 15 weeks, the justices will be focused on an issue that has dominated the term. Not only is there Mississippi’s call to overrule Roe v. Wade, but justices are already considering a Texas law banning abortion at roughly six weeks and written to make it difficult to mount legal challenges against it. The justices won't be writing onThe justices won't be writing on a blank slate as they consider the future of abortion rights in the U.S. They have had a lot to say about abortion over the years — in opinions, votes, Senate confirmation testimony and elsewhere.

  'Roe' on the line as Supreme Court takes up abortion rights case © Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

​​"The new crop of quite conservative justices on the court seems to put special stock in how wrong a previous opinion was, and they all think that Roe was very, very wrong," said Cardozo Law professor and ABC News legal analyst Kate Shaw. "I think that will be an important factor in their decision whether to revisit it."

The fact that the court decided to take up the case -- without a clear conflict among lower courts or ambiguity in legal precedent -- suggests to many legal scholars that a decision favoring Mississippi is highly likely.

"The court has long surprised us," said Shaw, "but it seems to me a vanishingly slim chance that the court will strike down the Mississippi law."

MORE: What would happen to abortion access if Roe v. Wade is overturned or weakened: Report

A decision upholding the state's 15-week abortion ban would implicitly reverse nearly 50 years of Supreme Court precedent and open the door to state restrictions much earlier in pregnancy.

Lone Mississippi clinic on front line of U.S. Supreme Court abortion battle

  Lone Mississippi clinic on front line of U.S. Supreme Court abortion battle Lone Mississippi clinic on front line of U.S. Supreme Court abortion battleJACKSON, Miss. (Reuters) - As a car drove into the parking lot of Jackson Women's Health Organization clinic, the only abortion provider in the state of Mississippi, anti-abortion activist Beverly Anderson leaned in to speak to the woman in the passenger's seat.

"You cannot uphold Mississippi's 15-week ban on abortion and continue the precedent of Roe v. Wade. They're not compatible," said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is leading the legal battle against the law. "There is no middle ground."

Majorities of Americans support the Supreme Court upholding Roe v. Wade and oppose states making it harder for abortion clinics to operate, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll this month. Three in four Americans, including majorities of Republicans, independents and Democrats, say the decision of whether or not to have an abortion should be left to a woman and her doctor.

In this Nov. 1, 2021, file photo, women participate in an abortion-rights rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. © Jacquelyn Martin/AP, FILE In this Nov. 1, 2021, file photo, women participate in an abortion-rights rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.

University of California, Berkeley Law professor Daniel Farber said the legal options before the court are stark and extreme. "I think between those two options, I think overruling Roe would win the day," Farber said.

Some abortion law scholars believe the justices may attempt a more moderate approach -- at least in appearance -- by upholding the Mississippi law while explaining that they are changing, rather than overturning, the standard set by Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

SCOTUS to Hear Biggest Abortion Case Since Roe, Where Barrett, Kavanaugh and Gorsuch Stand

  SCOTUS to Hear Biggest Abortion Case Since Roe, Where Barrett, Kavanaugh and Gorsuch Stand SCOTUS' 6-3 conservative majority could overturn Roe v. Wade when justices take up the biggest legal challenge to abortion rights since the 1973 landmark case.On Wednesday, the Supreme Court, which now has a 6-3 conservative majority, will hear oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization—a case challenging both Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

"The court might say, 'We are not finding that there's no constitutional protection for abortion, only that these earlier decisions didn't give sufficient weight to other kinds of state interests,'" said Shaw. "So, perhaps states may be able to ban abortions prior to viability, but that doesn't mean they have carte blanche to ban all abortions."

Mississippi has just one remaining abortion clinic, Jackson Women's Health, that only provides abortion services up to 16 weeks of pregnancy. The state argues that a ban starting at 15 weeks would not impose a significant burden on most women.

While Americans are broadly supportive of abortion rights, they appear more sharply divided on the type of ban at issue in Mississippi. A Marquette University Law School poll this month found 37% favored upholding a 15-week ban, with 32% opposed

MORE: Mississippi abortion clinic braces for Supreme Court showdown over Roe v. Wade

Overshadowing the case is the Supreme Court's still-pending decision in a separate dispute over Texas' unprecedented six-week abortion ban, SB8, which has been in effect for nearly three months and dominated national headlines.

"SB8 has the effect of making the Mississippi statute look quite moderate," said Julia Mahoney, a law professor at the University of Virginia. "So in a sense, upholding the Mississippi statute looks now like kind of a middle ground."

Abortion debate epicenter: Mississippi clinic stays open

  Abortion debate epicenter: Mississippi clinic stays open JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — As the U.S. Supreme Court hears a Mississippi case that could topple abortion rights nationwide, the state’s only abortion clinic is busier than ever: Volunteers continue to escort patients into the bright pink building while protesters outside beseech women not to end their pregnancies. In recent years, Jackson Women's Health Organization saw patients two or three days a week. It recently doubled its hours to treat women from Texas, where a law took effect in early September banning most abortions at about six weeks, and from Louisiana, where clinics are filling with Texas patients.

The justices gave the Texas law a highly expedited hearing, during which a majority appeared skeptical of its enforcement scheme that encourages citizens to sue anyone who aids or abets an unlawful abortion for the chance at a $10,000 bounty. Many observers assumed the court would quickly move to put the law on hold, but it has not done so.

Girgis said the delay suggests the justices "hit some snags" in their negotiations and may have decided to resolve the dispute in tandem with the Mississippi case.

"If they end up reversing Casey and Roe, then obviously the question of the constitutionality of SB8 becomes a lot easier," Girgis said.

Jackson Women's Health Organization is Mississippi's last remaining abortion clinic. It's at the center of a major Supreme Court case that could impact the future of abortion rights in America. © ABC News Jackson Women's Health Organization is Mississippi's last remaining abortion clinic. It's at the center of a major Supreme Court case that could impact the future of abortion rights in America.

In the meantime, access to abortion care for millions of women in the nation's second-most populous state remains on hold and could be suspended for months longer. The court is not expected to issue a decision in the Mississippi case until June.

"We're waiting on tenterhooks to hear from the court," said Northup of Texas law SB8. "But it is just quite unconscionable that we're so many months in, allowing this law to be in effect when it clearly violates Roe v. Wade."

Justice Brett Kavanaugh could be the key vote to watch in both cases, analysts said. He sided with the majority more than any other justice last term and notably broke with Chief Justice John Roberts in September to allow SB8 to take effect.

"From a tea leaf reading standpoint, we're watching Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett," said Mary Ziegler, Florida State Law professor and a leading abortion law historian.

MORE: Conflict over abortion laws won't abate if Roe v. Wade falls

"I think she may have some incentive, certainly not to save Roe, but to take her time in unraveling Roe rather than kind of delivering an immediate death blow," Ziegler said of Barrett, the court's newest and youngest member. "We don't know what Brett Kavanaugh, who is no longer beholden to John Roberts to get the deciding vote, will say about abortion."

The abortion rights battle at the Supreme Court comes as Republican-led states have enacted more than 100 new abortion restrictions so far this year, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights. Twenty-one states have laws in place that would quickly impose abortion bans in the event the Supreme Court overturns Roe.

Fourteen states plus Washington, D.C., have laws explicitly protecting access to abortion care, according to Guttmacher.

"If the court follows the rule of law, we will prevail," Northrup said. "But we are ready to fight on every front if there should be a reversal of Roe."

Supreme Court prepares to hear biggest abortion fight in decades .
Nearly 50 years after Roe v. Wade, the future of abortion rights will face its most consequential test Wednesday.At the heart of the dispute before the high court, now with a 6-3 conservative majority, is a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. State officials have used the case, known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, as a vehicle to ask the justices to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to an abortion. Pro-abortion rights advocates warn a decision upholding the 2018 law would pave the way for states to ban the procedure entirely.

usr: 4
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