US Supreme Court Abortion Case
The potential effects of the Supreme Court's abortion case are 'really disturbing,' especially for low-income women and women of color, a lawyer on the case says
  • The US Supreme Court on Monday said it would hear a case about a Mississippi abortion law.
  • The ruling could have a "disturbing" impact on access to abortion, lawyer Rob McDuff told Insider.
  • Anti-abortion laws "have a particularly pronounced impact" on poor and low-income women, he said.
The US Supreme Court on Monday announced it would hear arguments in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women's Health Organization, a case regarding a restrictive abortion law in Mississippi. The high court's ruling could have a "disturbing" impact on abortion access in the US and override decades of legal precedent, a lawyer on the case said.

"We always knew it was a possibility, but it's pretty rare that the Supreme Court takes a case that calls into question 50 years of precedent," said attorney Rob McDuff in an interview with Insider on Monday. McDuff represents the Mississippi Center for Justice in the case, told Insider on Monday.

The case concerns a 2018 Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks in gestation. Federal courts blocked the law from taking effect after the sole abortion provider in the state sued, but a ruling from the Supreme Court could reverse the decision, challenging decades-old legal precedent.

In the past, the Supreme Court declined to review lower court rulings that had blocked harsh state abortion laws from taking effect, making its decision Monday to hear the Mississippi case all the more startling, McDuff said.

"It's quite disturbing that the court is now taking up a case that really questions the reasoning of Roe v. Wade," he said, referencing the 1973 landmark decision by the court that upheld a woman's right to seek an abortion.

McDuff said he couldn't speculate which members of the nine-person bench pushed to hear the Mississippi case, but he said the landscape of the court undoubtedly shifted following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last year.

President Donald Trump nominated Justice Amy Coney Barrett to fill in for Ginsburg, who was an abortion rights advocate. Barrett has previously said it was "unlikely" the Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade, but suggested the rules around abortion could evolve.

"I don't think abortion or the right to abortion would change. I think some of the restrictions would change ... The question is how much freedom the court is willing to let states have in regulating abortion," Barrett said in 2016, according to the Associated Press.

Barrett, along with the two other judges Trump nominated, Justices Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh, have shifted the Supreme Court's ideological balance dramatically toward the right, sounding alarm bells for pro-choice activists.

The Mississippi Center for Justice, of which McDuff is a cofounder, is focused on advancing racial and economic justice. McDuff said anti-abortion legislation put forth in dozens of states, including Mississippi, is at odds with these goals.

"These laws have a particularly pronounced impact on poor women and women of color because it makes it more difficult for them to obtain abortions," he said. "They can't afford to travel out of state to a place where it might have better laws."

Other pro-choice organizations similarly shared concerns about the court's decision to hear the case Monday.

... It's hard to predict what effect the court's ruling would have on abortion access, McDuff said, but depending on how the court rules, it could be felt instantly in states across the US.

"The potential is really, really disturbing," he said.
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US Supreme Court Abortion Case
Most Americans want to see the Supreme Court uphold Roe v. Wade, polling shows
The Supreme Court announced Monday that it would take up a case that revolves around a Mississippi abortion law and that could potentially serve as a challenge to Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion nationwide prior to viability, which can occur at around 24 weeks.

In the midst of a global pandemic, a heightened focus on race relations and a struggling economy, fewer than 1% of Americans named abortion as the nation's most important problem, according to a Gallup poll last month. Respondents are far likelier to cite the pandemic, immigration issues, race relations or general concerns about the government, but that could potentially change if the Supreme Court's ruling lands during the 2022 midterm elections, especially if candidates end up making it a focal point of their campaigns.

A majority -- 59% -- of Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to one April survey by Pew Research Center, compared with 39% who say it should be illegal in most or all cases. Those top-line numbers, the poll found, haven't changed much in recent years -- surveys conducted as far back as 1995 found similar results.

What has changed is the size of the partisan divide on the issue. Abortion has become increasingly polarized over the past 15 years, in large part because of growing support for legalized abortion among Democrats. Between 2007 and 2021, according to Pew, the share of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents supporting broadly legalized abortion rose 17 percentage points, to 80%, while the share of Republicans and Republican-leaners saying the same dipped by 4 points, falling to 35%.

That leaves a yawning 45-point partisan gap between Democrats and Republicans. There are also significant divides along educational and religious lines. More highly educated Americans are likely to be more supportive of legal abortion in at least most cases than those with lower levels of education. When looked at along religious lines, White evangelical Protestants are broadly opposed to legal abortion. By contrast, divides along other demographic lines such as gender, race and age look relatively modest.

Americans often hold complicated, nuanced views on abortion, meaning that the way a survey question is framed can have a significant impact on the results. Gallup polling last summer, for instance, found the public about equally split between calling themselves by the activist labels "pro-choice" or "pro-life." Those labels, however, don't always map neatly onto specific policy preferences. In the same survey, half said abortion should be legal "only under certain circumstances," with 29% wanting it "legal under any circumstances" and 20% calling for it to be "illegal in all circumstances."
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US Supreme Court
Supreme Court takes up major abortion case next term that could limit Roe v. Wade
After being rescheduled for the court's consideration in conference over a dozen times, the case could present a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion nationwide prior to viability, which can occur at around 24 weeks of pregnancy.

It will be a blockbuster case, with the justices revisiting an issue that still deeply divides the country some 50 years after the landmark opinion, and with a ruling potentially coming in the middle of the 2022 midterm elections.

The case will thrust the court -- with a 6-3 conservative majority -- directly into the culture wars at a time when states across the country are attempting to pass more restrictive measures.

South Carolina, Oklahoma and Idaho have codified bans this year on abortion at the onset of a fetal heartbeat. Also this year, Arkansas and Oklahoma have enacted near-total abortion bans, and Montana banned the procedure at 20 weeks. None of the bills have gone into effect, either because of court actions or later effective dates.

"This will be, by far, the most important abortion case the Court will have heard since the Casey decision in 1992," said Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law. "If states are allowed to effectively ban abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy, as the Mississippi law in this case does, then pregnant women would have a far shorter window in which they could lawfully obtain an abortion than what Roe and Casey currently require."

The court's move highlights the impact of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who likely voted with the majority to take up the case and will spread concerns from supporters of abortion rights who fear she is poised to move the court to the right on the issue.

"Alarm bells are ringing loudly about the threat to reproductive rights," Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, the group challenging Mississippi over the law in court, said in a statement Monday. "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."
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