Dobbsv. Jackson Women’s Health Organization marks the first time the Court will rule on the constitutionality of an abortion ban before feasibility since Roe v Wade.
The state of Mississippi has asked the Court not only to uphold its abortion ban, but to overturn the Roe v Wade decision and find that there is no constitutional right to abortion.
What is Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization?
Dobbsv. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is a legal case argued before the United States Supreme Court in December 2021, which addressed the question of whether all state bans on elective abortions performed before the point of fetal viability are unconstitutional.
That question had been answered in the affirmative decades earlier by the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade (1973), which recognized a constitutional right to obtain an abortion before approximately the end of the second trimester of pregnancy (which the Court understood to be the usual point of fetal viability).
In its ruling in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey (1992), the Court affirmed Roe’s “essential determination”, which it described in part as “a recognition of a woman’s right to opt for and obtain an abortion before it becomes viable”, without undue state interference.
As the Court explained, a state unduly interferes with the right to prior abortion if its restrictions “impose an undue burden on a woman’s ability to make this choice” or present “a substantial obstacle to a woman’s effective right to choose the abortion.” process”.
Notwithstanding the Court’s decisions in Roe and Casey and its other rulings upholding the constitutional right to abortion prior to viability, Mississippi, the state appellant in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, stated that laws prohibiting pre-viability abortions are not necessarily unconstitutional.
States can “prohibit elective abortions before they are feasible,” the state argued, “because nothing in the constitutional text, structure, history, or tradition supports abortion rights.”
Dobbsv. Jackson Women’s Health Organization drew national attention because a Supreme Court ruling in Mississippi’s favor would fulfill a long-standing goal of the anti-abortion movement by allowing states to ban nearly all abortions in their jurisdictions.