The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments over this term over a Mississippi abortion law, in a case that could have major implications for abortion rights across the country – and could see the laws of the 19th century come into force again.
In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization the conservative majority court 6-3 will be directly invited to overturn the historic decision of the years 1973 Roe V. Wade and the subsequent decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
The Mississippi case is about a 15-week abortion ban, but has gained even greater significance following the Supreme Court’s decision by a 5: 4 vote not to grant a stay to the Texas’ controversial six-week ban on nearly all abortions.
The central question for abortion rights advocates is whether the conservative majority could decide to overthrow Roe deer and open the door to restrictive state-level abortion laws.
In Deer, the court concluded that a constitutional right to abortion before the fetus is viable outside the womb. This ruling made state laws prohibiting abortion unconstitutional and unenforceable.
However, eight states still have laws in place that prohibit and criminalize abortion in several ways, including allowing jail terms for those who assist with abortion. Two of these laws predate the Civil War from 1861 to 1865.
An Alabama law originally passed in 1852 and last amended in 1975 provides for fines of between $ 100 and $ 1,000, as well as a possibility of one year in county jail or a forced labor for someone who “willfully administer to a pregnant woman any drug or substance or uses or employs any instrument or other means to induce an abortion, miscarriage or premature childbirth or aids, encourages or prescribes for the same , unless it is necessary to preserve his life or his health and done for that purpose.
Another law that is unenforceable in West Virginia was originally enacted in 1848 and has been in effect since 1882. This law says, “Anyone who will administer to a woman or cause a woman to take any drug or other thing, or will use any means, with the intention of destroying his unborn child, or causing an abortion or miscarriage, and thereby destroying that child, or producing such an abortion or miscarriage, will be guilty of a crime and, upon conviction, will be incarcerated in the penitentiary for at least more than three years and not more than ten years.
NARAL Pro-Choice America, an abortion rights group, monitors abortion legislation and its website notes both existing laws to restrict abortion and those that have not been. repealed since 1973.
NARAL Acting President Adrienne Kimmell said News week in a statement: “When Roe vs. Wade was decided nearly five decades ago, states that banned abortion before the landmark ruling have been barred from enforcing those laws. “
“Now with a direct threat to Roe deer Before the anti-choice supermajority in the Supreme Court, it is imperative that states repeal these outdated and dystopian laws that threaten the future of legal abortion, ”Kimmel said.
“It is also essential that the Senate pass the Women’s Health Protection Act in order to protect the legal right to abortion at a time when the freedom to procreate is under unprecedented attack. This important legislation is the best way to prevent states from enacting or enforcing abortion bans. “
Mary Ziegler is a professor at Florida State University and author of Abortion and the Law in America: Roe v. Wade in the present tense. She said News week that states that did not repeal their pre-1973 abortion laws did so intentionally.
“For the most part, the States which have retained their pre-Roe deer the laws did it on purpose – they intend to criminalize all or most abortions again if Roe deer is overthrown, ”Ziegler said.
“Other states with criminal laws have deliberately taken them off the books because a change in Supreme Court case law could mean an effective ban on abortion. There may be debate about this in more states. heterogeneous like Michigan and Wisconsin, but we have reason to believe that these states intend to ban abortion when they have the possibility. “
The Texas attorneys behind SB8 have also taken a step further by reasoning about the pre-Roe deer ban, ”Ziegler said. “Johnathan Mitchell argued that if Roe is canceled, doctors can be punished retroactively for conduct that was protected by Roe at the time it was performed. All of this signals an intention to use pre-Roe statuses, and to do so aggressively. “
Mitchell is the conservative attorney and former Texas solicitor general who “helped” shape the state’s abortion ban, according to Texas Right to Life.
The Supreme Court is not due to hear oral arguments on Mississippi’s abortion law until Dec. 1, and a ruling will come next year.