Mississippi is building its case on the word “viability” in its bid to overturn Roe in the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion ruling.
The Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is the first challenge to the verdict in favor of Roe in the last 30 years, which is worrying the abortion rights advocates.
The Supreme Court can overturn Roe v. Wade by eliminating viability
On December 1, the US Supreme Court started hearing oral arguments in the case that are intended to overturn the Roe v. Wade verdict.
The US Supreme Court ruled in 1973 that women had the constitutional right to have an abortion before the second trimester ends.
When the case was challenged in the court in 1992, the court reaffirmed Roe in the Planned Parenthood v. Casey case; however, it introduced the “fetal viability” standard, compared to the trimester system.
Roe is the 1973 verdict that allowed women to make a decision of abortion before the viability limit, which is typically considered around 24 weeks.
Fetal viability is the period after which the child can survive outside the womb. Medical research shows this viability period has started coming down, due to the advanced medicines. In some cases, it has come down to as low as 22 weeks.
Mississippi is urging the court to overrule Roe, a decision that would empower states to ban abortion in most cases.
Chief Justice Roberts suggests that the bright-line rule established in Roe and Casey—no total abortion bans before fetal viability—was completely arbitrary. It sounds to me like he is ready to abolish the viability line. pic.twitter.com/tEIXVLGbuV
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) December 1, 2021
If the court successfully overturns the viability, it would bring up another question. This question would be: how far before the current viability limit would the states be able to ban abortion?
Considering the track record of different states, it can be seen that various states have opined differently regarding these issues.
The recommendations from states include an abortion ban after six, eight, ten or, twelve weeks after the last period.
Eliminating viability will help states in banning most abortions
Texas, for instance, prohibited providers from performing abortions after the detectable cardiac activity, a point which comes at nearly six weeks since the last period.
However, abortion rights advocates opined by this time, women might not be able to determine if they are pregnant or not, which makes it difficult for them to abort the child.
Likewise, they also noted that due to the difficult abortion procedure, even those who have detected their pregnancies might find it difficult to perform the abortion.
Supreme Court abortion case: Justices grill lawyers on precedent, fetal viability, constitutional rights https://t.co/xfRNyHIKEE
— Fox News (@FoxNews) December 1, 2021
Should the Supreme Court overturn Roe in its entirety, abortion access will be reduced dramatically across the United States.
However, if Mississippi successfully convinces the court to eliminate the viability date, the states will be empowered to have their voice in the abortion debate.
This is likely to reduce abortion in many Republican states, alongside shutting down most of the clinics in these various states.