50 years of abortion rights at stake as Mississippi law heads to Supreme Court

Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 10:26 AM CDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - A controversial Mississippi law regarding abortion rights is making its way to the Supreme Court. After years of legal challenges, the nine justices will have to make a decision with monumental ramifications. 50 years of abortion rights are at stake.

“You’re moving in the direction of saying, “We don’t care. We don’t think you should be having abortions,” said Paul Smith from the Georgetown University Law Center.

A newly Conservative Supreme Court is set to revisit abortion rights in the U.S. Lower courts threw out the Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, but the High Court has agreed to hear the case.

According to Smith that could give states more power and lead to further restrictions on the landmark Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 that legalized abortion nationwide.

“We’re headed toward a situation, I think, unless the court changes very dramatically very quickly a situation where states are free to do what they want to do on abortion,” said Smith.

Smith believes the Supreme Court would not hear the case if they were planning on ruling against the Mississippi law. He says the lower courts threw out the law based on past abortion cases having to do with when a fetus is viable, well after 15 weeks.

Hillary Schneller, a senior staff attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights is on the legal team challenging the Mississippi law. She says there are enormous constitutional consequences ahead.

“The ability to decide whether to continue a pregnancy has to remain with an individual. The alternative is it’s the government making this decision for people,” said Schneller.

Mississippi’s Republican federal lawmakers are in support of their state’s 15 weeks law. Both Rep. Michael Guest (R-MS) and Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) plan on officially backing the law when the case reaches the court by signing an amicus brief.

“I’m really glad we’re having the discussion because I think Roe v. Wade needs to be looked at,” said Hyde-Smith.

Hyde-Smith hopes this is the beginning of the end for Roe v. Wade. She argues scientific progress in the past 50 years reveals more about the development of fetuses after 15 weeks. Guest is also pro-life. He says states should be able to impose reasonable limits on when abortions can be performed.

“This does not prevent abortions in Mississippi, this just allows states to set reasonable limitations. And I do believe three-and-a-half months into pregnancy is reasonable,” said Guest.

The Mississippi case is the first major abortion dispute to test all three of Former President Trump’s appointees to the High Court. Oral arguments are expected to take place in the fall.

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