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Mississippi’s abortion law will go before the Supreme Court Wednesday. Here’s what you need to know.



mississippi supreme court
(Photo by formulanone from Huntsville, United States - Mississippi State Supreme Court, CC BY-SA 2.0,

by Julia James, Mississippi Today
November 30, 2021

Q: When are oral arguments?

A: Wednesday, Dec.1, 2021 at 10 a.m.

Q: How can I watch?

A: Click here to watch the C-SPAN broadcast. You can also listen to an audio livestream here.

Q: What law is at the center of the case?

A: A 2018 Mississippi law that prohibited abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Q: What is the Jackson Women’s Health Organization?

A: The Jackson Women’s Health Organization is the only abortion provider currently serving patients in the state of Mississippi.

Q: Who is arguing the case?

A: Julie Rikelman, the director of U.S. litigation for the Center for Reproductive Rights, is arguing on behalf of the Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Elizabeth Prelogar, solicitor general of the United States, will also be presenting on behalf of Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

Scott Stewart, solicitor general of Mississippi, is arguing on behalf of the state.

Read More: Former DOJ attorney under Trump will argue Mississippi’s case to Supreme Court to reverse Roe v. Wade

Q: What is at stake in the case?

A: Currently, the right to abortion is protected prior to fetal viability, or when a fetus can survive outside the uterus, as established in Roe v Wade and Casey v Planned Parenthood. Fetal viability is generally considered to occur at 24 weeks of pregnancy. If the fetal viability standard is overturned in this ruling, it could open the doors for a variety of other laws limiting abortion access.

Q: What do pro-choice advocates say? What do anti-abortion advocates say?

A: The state argues that the supreme court should overrule Roe and Casey to allow the issue of abortion to be decided by the states or Congress, both because the original decision was wrong and because the circumstances have changed. Many anti-abortion advocates see this as an avenue to completely outlaw abortion.

The clinic argues that nothing has meaningfully changed to warrant the court overruling the protections established in Roe and Casey. Pro-choice advocates have drawn a firm line in the sand with this case, arguing that any limitations on the fetal viability doctrine would be a de facto overturn of Roe and allow abortion to be banned in many states.

Q: Which Mississippi leaders have taken a public stance on this case?

A: Gov. Tate Reeves has publicly defended the Mississippi law being challenged this week and argued for an end to all abortions. Five members of the Mississippi congressional delegation (Sens. Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith; Reps. Steven Palazzo, Trent Kelly, and Michael Guest) filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in support of the law. Rep. Bennie Thompson has not publicly commented on the case but has a voting record that interest groups have considered pro-choice.

Q: What rallies are planned for this week in Jackson?

  • Abortion Freedom Fighters Day of Action!”; Dec. 1, 2021, 12-2 p.m.; Smith Park (302 E. Amite St Jackson MS, 39201)
  • BOUND4LIFE Prayer Siege”; Dec 1, 2021, 3-5 p.m.; outside Jackson Women’s Health Organization (2903 North State St. Jackson, MS 39216).

Q: What rallies are planned for this week in Washington D.C.?

Q: When might SCOTUS make a decision?

A: While the Supreme Court can release opinions at any point in the term, it is uncommon for contentious rulings to be handed down before the end of the term in June (June of 2022 in this case).

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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