News Briefs

U.S. Supreme Court schedules Dec. 1 oral arguments in major abortion case

By: - September 20, 2021 3:46 pm
People hold up signs that read "Protect safe, legal abortion."

People attend a “Fight4Her” pro-choice rally in front of the White House at Lafayette Square on March 29, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Astrid Riecken/Getty Images).

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Dec. 1 in a case that threatens to overturn decades of abortion protections established under the landmark 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade.

The upcoming case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, stems from a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks. It has been blocked by a lower federal court.

The nation’s top court announced in May that it would take up the Mississippi case. Since that announcement, the justices also voted in a 5-4 decision against preventing a more-strict Texas law from taking effect.

That Texas law bans abortions once cardiac activity can be detected — typically around six weeks of pregnancy, and early enough that many women still do not know they are pregnant. It also allows private citizens to file lawsuits against abortion providers and anyone who aids an abortion.

Also on Monday, a coalition of attorneys general from 23 states and the District of Columbia filed an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to deny Mississippi’s request that it declare broadly that there is no constitutionally protected right to an abortion.

That coalition includes attorneys general from Colorado, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

They argue in the brief that the Roe v. Wade decision takes into consideration state interests, while also protecting the ability of individuals to “make one of the most consequential, intimate and properly private decisions” they will ever confront.

Congressional Democrats are taking up legislation as soon as this week to enshrine the legal protections from the Roe ruling in federal law. But even if that bill passes the U.S. House, where Democrats hold a slim majority, it’s unlikely to pass in the evenly divided U.S. Senate.

In Missouri, the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments Tuesday morning in a lawsuit challenging a 2019 law criminalizing abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy with no exceptions for rape or incest.

The Missouri law before the court, which has blocked through an injunction,  also criminalizes abortions if they are being sought solely because of a prenatal diagnosis, test, or screening indicating Down Syndrome or the potential of Down Syndrome in an unborn child.

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Laura Olson
Laura Olson

Laura covers the nation's capital as a senior reporter for States Newsroom, a network of nonprofit outlets that includes The Missouri Independent. Her areas of coverage include politics and policy, lobbying, elections, and campaign finance.

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