The new case, Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, No. 19-1392, concerns a law passed in 2018 by Republican-dominated Mississippi law that banned abortions when “the probable gestational age of the unborn person” was higher than 15 weeks. The law, a calculated challenge for Roe, included tight exemptions for medical emergencies or “a serious fetal abnormality”.
Lower courts said the law was clearly unconstitutional under Roe, prohibiting states from banning abortions before the fetus is viable – the point at which fetuses can sustain life outside the womb or for about 23 or 24 weeks.
Mississippi’s only abortion clinic sued Roe and the law Planned parenting against Casey, the 1992 decision confirming Roe’s core stake.
Judge Carlton W. Reeves of the federal district court in Jackson, Miss., blocked the law in 2018, saying the legal issue was straightforward and challenged the state legislature’s motives.
“The state has decided to pass a law it knew would be unconstitutional to support a decades-long campaign fueled by national interest groups to ask the Supreme Court to overthrow Roe v. Wade.” Judge Reeves wrote. “This court follows the directions of the Supreme Court and the provisions of the United States Constitution rather than the insincere calculations of Mississippi legislation.”
“With recent changes in Supreme Court membership, the state may believe that Divine Providence was covering the Capitol when it passed these laws,” he wrote. “We shall see. If Roe’s upset is the state’s desired outcome, the state must seek that relief from a higher court. At the moment the United States Supreme Court has spoken.”
A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans, upheld Judge Reeves’ decision. “In an unbroken line traced back to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court abortion cases established (and affirmed and affirmed) a woman’s right to choose an abortion before viability.” Judge Patrick E. Higginbotham wrote for the majority.