Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in Abortion Case

Supreme Court Begins Hearing Oral Arguments in Abortion Case

( – In 1973, the Supreme Court of the US (SCOTUS) legalized abortion with its Roe v. Wade ruling. The woman at the center of that case, Norma Leah Nelson McCorvey (known as Jane Roe), later fought against abortion. Nearly 50 years after the landmark ruling, the high court could reverse or severely limit its previous precedent.

On Wednesday, December 1, the SCOTUS heard arguments in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Mississippi is asking the court to overturn a lower court ruling that halted its 15-week abortion ban. If the justices side with the state, it would override the previous precedents about fetal viability, currently requiring states to allow abortions up until the fetus can survive outside of the womb, which experts typically say is around the 24-week mark.

During the arguments, Justice Brett Kavanaugh seemed to imply it wasn’t the court’s place to override a state legislature. He asked why they were being asked to do that when Congress or state courts could step in to make the decision. Chief Justice John Roberts said a 15-week ban isn’t a “dramatic departure from viability.” Justice Amy Coney Barrett suggested safe haven laws, which allow women to give up their infants no questions asked, mean women aren’t forced into motherhood. On the other side of the fight, Justice Sonia Sotomayor suggested overturning the fetal viability precedent would be seen as a political move by the conservative court. Justice Elena Kagan called abortion rights “part of the fabric of women’s existence in this country.”

The high court will likely issue a ruling sometime in the spring or summer.

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