MS Abortion Case

May 17, 2021
supreme court

High Stakes

What to know about the Mississippi abortion law headed to the highest court in the land.


  • 1973: In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court legalized abortion w/ limits, ruling that the right to an abortion is *not* absolute.
  • The Supreme Court has since reaffirmed Roe, ruling women have the right to an abortion prior to viability (often estimated approx. 24 to 28 weeks into the pregnancy), but states may regulate abortions prior to viability so long as the state does not impose an undue burden on the woman.
  • BIG PICTURE: This is why abortion laws vary by state.


  • The 2018 law bans abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy, with some exceptions.
  • The law faced immediate legal challenges and never took effect due to rulings in lower courts.
  • Mississippi has one abortion clinic (which has sued to overturn the law). Its director says approx. 10% of abortions are performed after the 15th week of pregnancy.
  • CONTEXT: 92% of abortions in the U.S. occur during the first 13 weeks of pregnancy/first trimester (CDC data).
“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."

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a decision affirming a lower court's decision that ruled against Mississippi's law. The court, which is long regarded as one of the most conservative benches in the country, found the law was unconstitutional because it is contrary to existing legal precedent.

BIG PICTURE: Abortion law cases rarely make it to our nation's highest court, but the Supreme Court will hear this case in the fall. Will the Supreme Court uphold the rulings of lower courts against the state of Mississippi, or rule in favor of the state and set a new precedent for abortion law in America? We'll have to wait and see. A decision will likely be issued mid-2022.

Scotus Blog is a much-utilized resources for the Supreme Court: – Here's a link to their write-up on this story.

Supreme Court to take up major abortion rights challenge


3 Things to Know About Abortion Law in America Today: Note: Recorded in 2019 but still provides a good background!

by Jenna Lee,