Could Mississippi’s “masterful” move lead to the end of Roe v. Wade?
That’s what pro-life advocates are hoping after the state officially asked the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade in a brief filed Thursday, according to the Washington Free Beacon. The move came as the state is defending its Gestational Age Act, which bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
The brief in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization argued that Roe v. Wade and another landmark abortion decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, were erroneously decided.
“Under the Constitution, may a State prohibit elective abortions before viability? Yes. Why? Because nothing in constitutional text, structure, history, or tradition supports a right to abortion,” read the brief, filed by Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch.
“Roe and Casey are egregiously wrong. The conclusion that abortion is a constitutional right has no basis in text, structure, history, or tradition,” it continued.
“Roe broke from prior cases, Casey failed to rehabilitate it, and both recognize a right that has no basis in the Constitution.”
“Abortion jurisprudence has placed this Court at the center of a controversy that it can never resolve,” the brief added. “And Roe and Casey have produced a jurisprudence that is at war with the demand that this Court act based on neutral principles.”
In addition to arguing both Roe and Casey were decided on invented rights that don’t exist in the Constitution, lawyers for Mississippi said the decisions abrogated the state’s 10th Amendment rights to set its own abortion restrictions. The brief also said the logic in the Roe and Casey decisions was superannuated.
“The march of progress has left Roe and Casey behind,” the brief read. “Those cases maintained that an unwanted pregnancy could doom women to ‘a distressful life and future’ … that abortion is a needed complement to contraception … and that viability marked a sensible point for when state interests in unborn life become compelling.”
“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 continued.
The fact the court decided to hear Mississippi’s appeal to a 2019 federal court ruling which struck down the law had already set off alarm bells among pro-abortion groups.
However, as The Wall Street Journal noted, the state had originally argued the law violated neither Roe v. Wade, nor Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a 1992 decision which states that laws mustn’t put an “undue burden” upon a woman seeking an abortion.
With Thursday’s brief, those alarm bells were ringing loud and clear, particularly given this is the first major abortion case to be heard by a court with a 6-3 conservative-leaning.
“Mississippi just said the quiet part out loud,” a statement from Planned Parenthood Action read, according to the Free Beacon. “This was always their end game: to have the Court overrule 50 years of precedent and allow states to ban abortion.”
“If Roe falls, half the states in the country are poised to ban abortion entirely,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, the pro-abortion group representing Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the WSJ reported.
“Women of childbearing age in the U.S. have never known a world in which they don’t have this basic right, and we will keep fighting to make sure they never will.”
Pro-life groups, meanwhile, hailed Mississippi’s push to end the “basic right” to kill a baby.
“Mississippi’s pro-life law reflects science and international norms and we’re eager to see the Court catch up,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, according to the Free Beacon.
“By 15 weeks, they have fingers and toes, fully formed noses, lips, eyelids and eyebrows. They are clearly human, and they feel pain. Most European nations limit late-term abortion by this point.”
Dannenfelser also hailed the brief as “masterful.”
“When the Court handed down Casey in 1992, it tacitly conceded many of the faults of Roe while insisting that the need to preserve public respect for itself as an institution required it to stick with the pretense that the Constitution protects abortion,” the board noted in a Thursday editorial.
“Fitch gently but firmly observes that after nearly 30 years, this judgment has proven spectacularly wrong. It is the Court’s extraconstitutional role in setting abortion policy, more than anything else, that has diminished and distorted it.
“The justices may duck this argument but cannot refute it. The Constitution, federalism, the separation of powers, and moral truth all converge on an answer in this case, and Mississippi has just identified it,” the editorial continued. “The justices should have the courage and integrity to admit that the Court has been wrong.”
Whether this ends up being a “masterful” move depends on whether the justices realize all that — but the fact conservatives can even talk about Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey being overturned is a huge step for human life.
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