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A generational opportunity to uphold life-saving protections, as U.S. Supreme Court considers Mississippi abortion case

WASHINGTON, DC— Americans United for Life is pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court has decided today to hear Mississippi’s appeal to defend state law protecting the human right to life at 15 weeks.

Mississippi’s House Bill 1510, passed in 2018, preserves the human right to life and limits abortion when “the probable gestational age of the unborn human being” is “greater than” 15 weeks, “except in a medical emergency or in the case of a severe fetal abnormality….”

Mississippi’s defense of HB 1510 gives the U.S. Supreme Court the opportunity to finally rein in the Court’s extreme abortion doctrine, which, under the regime of Roe v. Wade, marks the U.S. as one of only seven nations across the globe that allow abortion for any reason after twenty weeks of gestation. 

The Court, as it sometimes does, has decided to hear only 1 of the 3 questions presented to the Court by Mississippi: “Whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.” 

By addressing the first question, the Court has signaled that it is focused on the key issue of the constitutionality of legal limits on late-term abortions.  Some federal courts have held that the Court’s viability rule adopted in Planned Parenthood v. Casey is “categorical,” such that no legislative prohibition of any abortion before viability is enforceable.

The case also allows the Court to consider the States’ interest in protecting maternal health, since a well-regarded medical study from 2004 by Dr. Linda Bartlett and others found that the risk of maternal mortality increases considerably after 14 weeks. Specifically, the study found “[c]ompared with women whose abortions were performed at or before 8 weeks of gestation, women whose abortions were performed in the second trimester were significantly more likely to die of abortion-related causes.” Mississippi cited the Bartlett study in its legislative findings. 

The case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Sup. Ct. No. 19-1392, is likely to be scheduled for hearing sometime this fall.

“That the Supreme Court is considering this Mississippi law is a promising signal that perhaps a majority of Justices wish to give states greater power to regulate abortion,” said Steven H. Aden, AUL Chief Legal Officer & General Counsel. “At the same time, if the Court rejects Mississippi’s common sense HB 1510 protections, the pro-life movement will face a fundamental reckoning.”

“Every few years since Roe, the Supreme Court finds itself grappling with abortion,” said Katie Glenn, AUL Government Affairs Counsel. “The Justices must ultimately choose whether their jobs are endlessly adjusting America’s abortion policies or the restoration of constitutional human rights.” 

“The protection of the human right to life is the true constitutional business of the Court,” continued Glenn, “and Americans United for Life sincerely hopes that Mississippi’s HB 1510 serves to guide the moral conscience of all Americans, particularly those Justices who presently wield untold power over death and life.”

Americans United for Life (AUL) is a nonprofit, public-interest law and policy organization that holds the distinction of being the first national pro-life organization in America—incorporated in 1971. It protects and defends human life from conception to natural death through vigorous legislative, judicial, and educational efforts.

FOR MEDIA INQUIRIES, CONTACT
NOAH BRANDT, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR
press@aul.org or 202-741-4921