Mississippi’s attempt to have the landmark Roe v. Wade decision guaranteeing a woman’s right to an abortion overturned will be heard by the Supreme Court on December 1.
On Monday, the court announced its arguments schedule for late November and early December.
Mississippi is requesting that the Supreme Court uphold the state’s ban on most abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy. The state has asked the court to overturn Roe v. Wade and the 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which prohibit states from prohibiting abortion before viability, or when a fetus can survive outside the womb, which occurs around 24 weeks of pregnancy.
The Supreme Court recently upheld a Texas law prohibiting abortions after cardiac activity is detected, which occurs around 6 weeks of pregnancy, before some women are even aware they are pregnant. The law is unique in that it allows private citizens to sue people who may have assisted in the illegal abortion of a minor. The court, which was split 5-4, did not rule on the law’s constitutionality, but instead declined to halt enforcement while a legal challenge to the law is pending.
Nonetheless, abortion providers interpreted the decision as an ominous sign of where the court, with its conservative majority bolstered by three Trump appointees, might be headed on abortion.
The providers have said Mississippi wants the court to “scuttle a half-century of precedent and invite states to ban abortion entirely.”
A legal brief filed Monday by more than 500 athletes in support of abortion rights, warning that stripping constitutional protection from abortion would be devastating to female athletes, is among the hundreds of legal briefs on both sides of the case. Crissy Perham, an Olympic gold medalist in swimming, is among those who have spoken publicly for the first time about her abortion.
Perham, who competed as Ahmann-Leighton, said that having an abortion after becoming pregnant “ultimately led me to be an Olympian, a college graduate, and a proud mother today.” At the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, she won three medals, including two golds.
Soccer stars Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn, basketball players Diana Taurasi, Brittany Griner, and Breanna Stewart, and water polo player Ashleigh Johnson are among the athletes who signed the high-court filing.
The Mississippi law was passed in 2018, but it was overturned by a federal court. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the state’s only abortion clinic, is still open and provides abortions up to 16 weeks of pregnancy. According to the providers, about 100 abortions are performed after the 15th week each year.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 90% of abortions in the United States occur within the first 13 weeks of pregnancy.