Culture Wars/Current Controversies

The question that may determine the future of abortion rights

By Damon Linker The Week

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday morning in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, a case with the potential to gut Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), the court’s landmark decisions establishing and upholding a constitutional right to abortion. From the tenor of those arguments and the justices’ reaction to them, it seems most likely that the court’s eventual decision in the case will in fact permit increased restrictions on abortion — and may well overturn its own precedents outright.

The case concerns a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, placing it on a collision course with Casey‘s ban on placing substantial obstacles in the way of terminating a non-viable fetus. If the law is allowed to stand, this would imply that the court is willing to disregard fetal viability (currently around 23 weeks, though the record is 21 weeks) as the threshold in pregnancy after which the state acquires an overriding interest in protecting the life of the unborn child.

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