Supreme Court to Hear Oral Arguments Challenging Roe v. Wade in December

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Arguments in a case challenging the validity of the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that access to abortion is a constitutional right are scheduled to take place in the nation’s highest court near the end of 2021.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization on Dec. 1, the court announced on Sept. 20.

Justices had agreed in May to hear the case, but it hadn’t been known before when the case would be heard.

Mississippi enacted a law in 2018 barring abortions after 15 weeks outside of medical emergencies or the discovery of a severe abnormality in the unborn baby.

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves, an Obama appointee, struck down the law, finding “it is a facially unconstitutional ban on abortions prior to viability.” A trio of 5th Circuit Court of Appeals judges later upheld the ruling.

“In an unbroken line dating to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s abortion cases have established (and affirmed, and re-affirmed) a woman’s right to choose an abortion before viability. 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,” U.S. Circuit Court Judge Patrick Higginbotham, a Reagan appointee, wrote in the decision.

That prompted a request in early 2020 for the Supreme Court to analyze the lower court decisions.

In a brief to the court over the summer, Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, a Republican, said the court should overturn Roe v. Wade.

“The conclusion that abortion is a constitutional right has no basis in text, structure, history, or tradition,” Fitch wrote.

Hillary Schneller, senior staff attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the last abortion clinic in Mississippi, has said the legislation in question “defies decades of Supreme Court precedent.”

By Zachary Stieber

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