Today, the U.S. Supreme Court granted Mississippi’s request to review a case challenging the state’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. These kind of bans on abortion prior to viability have been unconstitutional since 1973, when the Supreme Court decided the landmark case Roe v. Wade. In this case, the Court has agreed to consider the question as to whether all previability prohibitions on abortion are unconstitutional.
The challenge to Mississippi’s 15-week ban was brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights, the law firm Paul Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, and the Mississippi Center for Justice on behalf of Jackson Women’s Health Organization—the last remaining abortion clinic in Mississippi. The state of Mississippi asked the Supreme Court to take this case after the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the law in December 2019.
Statement from Nancy Northup, President & CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“Alarm bells are ringing loudly about the threat to reproductive rights. The Supreme Court just agreed to review an abortion ban that unquestionably violates nearly 50 years of Supreme Court precedent and is a test case to overturn Roe v. Wade.
The consequences of a Roe reversal would be devastating. Over 20 states would prohibit abortion outright. Eleven states—including Mississippi—currently have trigger bans on the books which would instantaneously ban abortion if Roe is overturned. Already, abortion is nearly impossible to access for people in states like Mississippi, where lawmakers have been chipping away at the right to abortion for decades. We will keep fighting to make sure that people do not lose this fundamental right to control their own bodies and futures.”
Statement from Diane Derzis, owner of Jackson Women’s Health Organization—the sole abortion clinic in Mississippi:
“As the only abortion clinic left in Mississippi, we see patients who have spent weeks saving up the money to travel here and pay for childcare, for a place to stay, and everything else involved. If this ban were to take effect, we would be forced to turn many of those patients away, and they would lose their right to abortion in this state. Mississippi politicians have created countless barriers for people trying to access abortion, intentionally pushing them later into pregnancy. It’s all part of their strategy to eliminate abortion access entirely.”
For now, abortion remains legal in Mississippi and the ban will remain blocked as the Supreme Court reviews the case. Mississippi passed their 15-week ban in 2018, followed by a 6-week ban in 2019. Twelve other states have passed unconstitutional abortion bans at various points in pregnancy since 2019, and each ban that has been challenged has been subsequently struck down: Alabama; Arkansas; Georgia; Kentucky; Louisiana; Montana, Missouri; Ohio; Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee; and Utah. In 2016, the Supreme Court denied petitions for certiorari on two abortion ban cases appealed by North Dakota (six-week ban) and Arkansas (12-week ban). Abortion bans threaten the health, rights, and lives of people of color and low-income people disproportionately, as they already face more hurdles when accessing abortion.
Click here for the Center’s interactive map called “What if Roe Fell”, which shows what would happen in each state if Roe were overturned.