Roe v. Wade, the infamous 1973 ruling that established a nationwide “right” to abortion, faces its most serious challenge in 30 years on Dec. 1 before the Supreme Court, NBC reports.
The court currently has a 6-3 conservative majority, thanks in large part to three appointments by President Donald Trump.
The outcome of the case is nearly black and white: It will re-establish the constitutional right to an abortion or remove it altogether. “There are no half measures here,” said Sherif Girgis, a law professor at Notre Dame who once clerked for Justice Samuel Alito.
A ruling that reverses Roe and the 1992 case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey would mean bans or severe limits on abortion in 26 states, says the Guttmacher Institute, which supports legal abortion.
The Dec. 1 case is from Mississippi, and concerns a 2018 law that would ban abortions after 15 weeks. The Supreme Court has never allowed states to ban abortion before the 24-week point at which a fetus can survive outside the womb.
The justices are also hearing disputes over Texas’ earlier ban on abortion, at roughly six weeks, though those cases are about the structure of the law and how it can be challenged in court, not the “right” to kill one’s unborn child.
Abortion advocates were incensed by the court’s 5-4 vote in September to uphold the Texas law, which relies on civil lawsuits to stamp out the practice.
The Supreme Court had never before even agreed to hear a case over a pre-viability ban on abortion. After the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last year, however, and her replacement by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s third appointee, the court agreed to take up the case.