by Megan Kirk
A woman’s right to choose has been the topic of both political and personal debate for decades, with the debate heating up. The historic Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade could be overturned as the Supreme Court hears a case that can overturn the abortion ruling and set a new precedent for pro-life stance.
Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is the latest case at the center of the reproductive controversy. A Mississippi appellate court ruled on a decision that would throw out a previous-standing law banning abortions past 15 weeks in the state. Mississippi has decided to appeal the decision to the highest court in the American justice system. Since the 1973 decision that determined pregnancy or its termination is an individual’s right to decide, the Supreme Court has not had to decide on a law that bans the act.
Jackson Women’s Health Organization is the only facility in Mississippi that caters to women and young girls who are faced with a tough decision. Choosing to care for a child is life-altering and for some Mississippi politicians, a decision that is mandatory once life is detected in the womb.
“As the only abortion clinic left in Mississippi, we see patients who have spent weeks saving up the money to travel here and pay for childcare, for a place to stay, and everything else involved. If this ban were to take effect, we would be forced to turn many of those patients away, and they would lose their right to abortion in this state. Mississippi politicians have created countless barriers for people trying to access abortion, intentionally pushing them later into pregnancy. It’s all part of their strategy to eliminate abortion access entirely,” says Diane Derzis, owner of Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
Women’s and reproductive rights groups are working overtime to effect change and ensure women maintain the right to choose for their bodies.
“Alarm bells are ringing loudly about the threat to reproductive rights. The Supreme Court just agreed to review an abortion ban that unquestionably violates nearly 50 years of Supreme Court precedent and is a test case to overturn Roe v. Wade,” says Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “The consequences of a Roe reversal would be devastating. Over 20 states would prohibit abortion outright. Eleven states—including Mississippi—currently have trigger bans on the books which would instantaneously ban abortion if Roe is overturned. Already, abortion is nearly impossible to access for people in states like Mississippi, where lawmakers have been chipping away at the right to abortion for decades. We will keep fighting to make sure that people do not lose this fundamental right to control their own bodies and futures.”
A “trigger” ban refers to abortion laws that have been instituted since the passing of Roe v. Wade and will become effective if the Supreme Court overturns the decision. Although Michigan has no bans on abortion, The Center for Reproductive Rights has created a tool that labels the mitten as a hostile state. Translation: legislators could outlaw abortions all together in the state should the courts decide in favor of Mississippi.
The Texas legislature has also enacted a trigger ban for abortions in their state. Noted as House Bill 1280, it would activate 30 days after the Supreme Court overturned the Roe decision. They are also activated in the case a court or constitutional amendment rules states can outlaw abortions.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2018 women in their 20’s accounted for more than half, 58 percent, of abortions, with the majority taking place before the 13-week mark, and the overall number of abortions on the decline. From 2009 to 2018, the number of terminations fell by 22 percent and the rate declined by 24 percent.
Of the nine sitting Supreme Court justices, six identify as conservatives. Viability is at the center of the controversy. Medically slated to begin at roughly 24 weeks, viability determines the earliest moment a fetus could survive outside the womb. The Supreme Court will begin hearing the case in October 2021 with a decision expected by June 2022.