Supreme Court Takes Up Abortion Law

May 17, 2021
Supreme Court Takes Up Abortion Law

It’s impossible to overstate what a big deal this decision is…

Legal historian Mary Ziegler on the Supreme Court reviewing a Mississippi abortion law.
  • The Mississippi law (never enforced due to lower court challenges) restricts abortion after 15-weeks – before the unborn can live outside the womb or is "viable" (a term may read or hear).
  • Mississippi has one of the more restrictive abortion laws in the nation, limiting abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Important context: The Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion on the basis of an individuals right to privacy but deferred to the states to decide "viability" – this is why certain states allow abortion much later in a pregnancy (like New York) and others limit it (such as Mississippi).
  • The Supreme Court will likely review this case in the fall of 2021 and America will hear a decision by June of 2022.

Why This Matters: Mississippi isn't the only state that has passed laws restricting abortion to earlier in a pregnancy – This is why many look at the Supreme Court's ruling on this case to be so significant. This is *also* the first time the Supreme Court, with new Justices such as Amy Coney Barrett (described by The Associated Press as "the most open opponent of abortion rights to join the court in decades"), will review a case seen as a challenge to current abortion law. Notably, the Supreme Court says it will review “all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.” Pre-viability is before the unborn can survive outside the womb. While some say a ruling on the Mississippi case could lead to further restrictions on abortion, others say a ruling could set the precedent for expanding abortion access.

Here's a good overview by The Associated Press


by Jenna Lee,

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