SCOTUS to hear oral arguments this week in potentially pivotal abortion case

On Wednesday, the United States Supreme Court will hear arguments in a Mississippi case that may well be the most significant abortion controversy to come before the justices since Roe v. Wade, and emotions are running high on both sides of the highly contentious issue.

As The Hill reports, the high court will consider a law from the state of Mississippi banning abortions after 15 weeks’ gestation, and the matter is thought by many to represent the most substantial test of just how influential the court’s relatively new conservative majority turns out to be in practice when confronted with an issue of this sort of ideological magnitude.

The case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization offers the justices a rare chance to overturn the decision in Roe, a move that Mississippi’s attorney general has specifically called on them to make, describing the landmark ruling that created a constitutional right to abortion and the subsequent cases it spawned as “egregiously wrong.”

According to the ruling in Roe, which was later affirmed in the 1992 case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, individual states are not permitted to ban abortions prior to fetal viability, which is typically pegged somewhere between 22 and 24 weeks’ gestation, as CBS News noted.

However, given that the Mississippi law in question precludes abortion after 15 weeks – well before fetal viability – the court now has the opportunity to eliminate that discrete standard as the line of demarcation regarding when states may impose limitations on the procedure.

According to Florida State University law professor Mary Ziegler, “Many are expecting that Dobbs will either be the moment that the Supreme Court overrules Roe or at least will set us on a path to doing so,” adding, “One of the questions that many of us are going to be interested in is whether it’s possible to sever viability from Roe and Casey and have anything left.”

Center for Reproductive Rights attorney Julie Rikelman – one of the lawyers fighting against the Mississippi law at the Supreme Court – suggests that “A decision upholding this ban is tantamount to overruling Roe,” and therefore the stakes could not be higher on both sides of the political divide.

Acknowledging the potentially massive nationwide implications of this case, the Associated Press recently referred to this week’s Dobbs arguments as a “showdown” and an “all-or-nothing abortion fight,” and pro-life advocates are bringing the full force of their faith to bear as they await oral arguments and, ultimately, a decision from the justices.

A group of religious leaders from across the country that included Mississippi Republican Gov. Tate Reeves, Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List, evangelist Alveda King, and others convened Sunday, according to Breitbart, to express solidarity with the rights of the unborn and to pray that, in their words, the court “sends Roe to the dustbin of history” once and for all.