Mississippi asks the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade in upcoming abortion case

Supreme court
A view of the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, March 15, 2019. Associated Press/Susan Walsh
  • The state of Mississippi has asked the Supreme Court to overturn the landmark abortion ruling Roe v. Wade.
  • Lawyers called the Roe v. Wade ruling “egregiously wrong” in a brief filed on Thursday.
  • The state wants it overturned so it can uphold its own restrictions to abortion access, according to the brief.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The state of Mississippi has asked the Supreme Court to overturn landmark abortion ruling Roe v. Wade in a case set to be argued in the court’s next term.

Mississippi wants Roe v. Wade to be overturned so it can uphold its own restrictions to abortion access, according to a brief filed Thursday.

The legal brief by the state of Mississippi makes an explicit argument to throw out the pivotal 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. Lawyers for Mississippi called the Roe ruling “egregiously wrong” in the brief, and argue that it’s outdated.

“Today, adoption is accessible and on a wide scale women attain both professional success and a rich family life, contraceptives are more available and effective, and scientific advances show that an unborn child has taken on the human form and features months before viability,” the brief says.

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

Lower courts have blocked Mississippi’s state law, which bans most abortions after 15 weeks into a pregnancy. Mississippi currently has only one abortion clinic, Jackson Women’s Health Organization in Jackson.

The brief follows another still-pending Mississippi case attempting to overturn Roe v. Wade

The challenge, which can be rejected, builds on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a pending case the Supreme Court took up in May addressing whether a 2018 Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks is constitutional.

That case is deciding “whether all previability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional,” the court’s announcement said. “Fetal viability” is believed to begin around 24 weeks. The medical consensus is that something akin to pain is first felt at 28 weeks, despite past efforts to restrict abortion access after 20 weeks on the basis that that’s when the fetus feels pain.

On a June panel, Shannon Brewer, the director of Jackson Women’s Health, said her organization is on “pins and needles” about the decision. “But we’ve always been on pins and needles, with all the new laws that keep coming. It’s a constant battle here actually, because as soon as we get through one hurdle, there’s something else that pops up.”

SCOTUS is expected to hear arguments in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health case in November or December, according to the Washington Post.

What would happen if Roe v. Wade were overturned

Since Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died last year and conservative judge Amy Cohen Barret has been appointed, fertility doctors have worried the court’s makeup will threaten access to reproductive services including birth control, IVF, and abortion.

The Center for Reproductive Rights estimates that 34 states could cease to protect abortion rights if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned and local governments took no action.

In that case, the US would be ushered back into a context more akin to the 1950s and 1960s, when underground abortions were common, Carole Joffe, a sociologist who cowrote “Obstacle Course: The Everyday Struggle to Get an Abortion in America,” previously told Insider.

There are still many unknowns about cost and access if Roe v. Wade is overturned, Joffe said, since different states can make their own laws about the procedure. One thing seems certain: Abortions will continue, no matter Roe v. Wade’s future.