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Abortion law in danger in the USA: Mississippi case before the Supreme Court

Supreme Court
This case could overturn abortion rights in the US – Roe v. Calf in danger

Activists demonstrate for the right to abortion the day before the Supreme Court hearing

© Chip Somodevilla / AFP

Hardly any other judgment in the USA polarizes as much as the decision of Roe v. Wade, who guarantees the right to abortion. Now the fundamental judgment could actually be overturned.

The US Supreme Court wants to deal this Wednesday with an attempt to massively restrict the current right to abortion. The judges of the Supreme Court want to hear arguments in a case from the state of Mississippi from 4 p.m. CET. The importance of the case goes far beyond the state in the south of the country: The court’s decision could result in conservative states strictly restricting or prohibiting abortion. The danger that the right to abortion could be curtailed seems greater than seldom before – under the former US President Donald Trump, the Supreme Court has moved significantly to the right.

According to a landmark ruling from 1973, abortions are allowed in the USA until the fetus is viable – today until about the 24th week of pregnancy. The decision, known as Roe v. Wade is known as a milestone. In the case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the court ruled in 1992 that states should not inappropriately make women ‘s ability to benefit from an abortion difficult. There should be no unreasonable burden. Proponents of the right to abortion fear that the Supreme Court could overturn these decisions.

Decision not expected until next year

The background to this is a law from Mississippi that bans almost all abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy. Lower instances had previously ruled that the law did not interfere with Roe v. Wade is compatible. The conservatively governed state then called the US Supreme Court to review the case. For observers, it is surprising that the Supreme Court even took up the case. Only one abortion clinic is currently open in Mississippi – the Pink House in the capital Jackson. There are regular massive protests in front of the clinic – women are harassed and protected by volunteers.

A decision by the Supreme Court in the case is not expected until next year. However, this could have serious consequences for pregnant women. The judges could decide that a fetus is viable before the 24th week. Or they could define viability differently. You could also interpret the question of what an unreasonable burden is liberally.

In the worst case, the court could completely overturn past decisions, leaving it up to the states alone to regulate their abortion law. Some states have already prepared laws that could come into effect immediately. Above all, it is the ultra-conservative states in the South and Midwest who want to ban abortion entirely or almost completely.

The Supreme Court moved to the right under Trump

With its decisions on particularly controversial issues such as abortion, immigration or same-sex marriages, the Supreme Court repeatedly sets the course for US society. During Trump’s tenure, the conservative majority in the court was expanded to six of the nine seats with the refill on the bench. After the death of the liberal justice icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the focus was on newcomer Amy Coney Barrett. Barrett has been a staunch Catholic for decades.

Just a few weeks ago, the court was looking into an abortion law case in Texas. The Texas Heartbeat Act prohibits abortion once the fetus’s heartbeat has been determined. This can be the case as early as the sixth week of pregnancy. Many women do not even know at this point that they are pregnant. At the hearing before the Supreme Court at the beginning of November, however, the question of the right to abortion was only indirectly concerned – rather technical questions, such as how the regulation is designed, were in the foreground.


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