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Thomas Gallatin / May 19, 2021

SCOTUS Takes Up Long-Awaited Abortion Case

This case could significantly impact Roe v. Wade.

The U.S. Supreme Court will take up a case regarding life in the womb, and the ruling promises to have signifiant ramifications for abortion and perhaps even the deadly legacy of two of the worst rulings the Court has ever handed down, Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The Court’s current 6-3 conservative majority has pro-life proponents guardedly optimistic for a favorable decision, expected sometime in the spring of 2022.

The case in question is Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which raises the question of the constitutionality of states implementing laws that ban abortions after a preborn baby reaches a certain stage of gestational development. This is the basis for the “heartbeat bills” that have been recently passed in several states.

In 2018, Mississippi passed a ban on abortions after 15 weeks except “in a medical emergency or in case of a severe fetal abnormality.” For context, the 15-week mark comes within the second trimester of a baby’s gestational development, well after a heartbeat is detectable at about six weeks but well before viability, which is generally about 23 or 24 weeks. As such, the Dobbs case represents a more modest abortion ban when compared to that of similar heartbeat bills, though it clearly challenges the wide-ranging precedents of Roe and Casey.

Before the law went into effect, a Mississippi judge issued an injunction that was subsequently upheld by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Fifth Circuit later ruled against the state, asserting, “No state interest is constitutionally adequate to ban abortions before viability.” While Fifth Circuit Judge James Ho correctly observed that “nothing in the text or original understanding of the Constitution establishes a right to an abortion,” he went along with the ruling by citing the precedent the Supreme Court established in its 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey ruling, which established viability rather than pain avoidance for determining the demarkation line for banning abortion.

However, with advances in modern medicine and scientific knowledge, the viability line has been shown to be both increasingly less applicable and even arbitrary. As such, this case presents a potentially significant decision that could have a profound impact on the landmark Roe v. Wade abomination. In other words, if the conservative Court overturns Dobbs, that would in turn put the crosshairs on Roe itself. Overturning Roe, of course, would not ban abortions; rather it would send the issue back to the states as the federalism issue it always has been.

Meanwhile, what does the “very Catholic” President Joe Biden think about this case and protecting life as his church teaches? “The president is committed to codifying Roe,” said Press Secretary Jen Psaki on his behalf, “unrelated … to the outcome of this case.” That’s very Democrat, but it’s anti-Catholic and anti-life.

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