We see that you have javascript disabled. Please enable javascript and refresh the page to continue reading local news. If you feel you have received this message in error, please contact the customer support team at 1-833-248-7801.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

What's at stake in U.S. Supreme Court abortion case?

The nine justices are weighing whether to revive Mississippi's ban on abortion starting at 15 weeks of pregnancy, a law blocked by lower courts as clearly in violation of the Roe v. Wade precedent.

Protest near the Supreme Court over abortion rights in Washington
Supporters of abortion rights demonstrate outside the United States Supreme Court in Washington, on June 15, 2022.
EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/REUTERS
We are part of The Trust Project.

The conservtive-majority U.S. Supreme Court is set to decide in the coming weeks whether to dramatically curb abortion rights when it rules on a case from Mississippi, potentially paving the way to about half of the 50 U.S. states banning or heavily restricting the procedure.

Here is a summary of what's at stake and how the court could rule in the decision expected by early July:

WHAT IS THE PRECEDENT?

The 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that the court could overturn in the pending case held that the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides a fundamental right to privacy that protects a woman’s right to abortion.

More on abortion in the U.S.
A group called Mothers Offering Maternal Support is attempting to intervene after Ramsey County Judge Thomas Gilligan in July tossed several laws restricting abortion, including a 24-hour wait period and a requirement for minors to notify both parents before getting the procedure. Democratic Attorney General Keith Ellison, who backs abortion rights, declined to file an appeal in the case, arguing his office had spent three years and more than half a million dollars defending the laws in the case Doe v. Minnesota.
Now confronted with a challenge from the other side of the abortion debate, Republican nominee for Minnesota attorney general Jim Schultz continues to downplay the issue’s importance in the race. He argues the attorney general’s office ultimately has very little influence over abortion policy in the state of Minnesota and said the question is fundamentally for the legislature to decide.
Critics say warnings over "post-abortion syndrome" are unsupported by the best evidence and that the state Positive Alternatives Grant Program should not be funding crisis pregnancy centers that endorse it.
“In Minnesota, it's a protected constitutional right, and no governor can change that,” said Jensen, a Chaska family practice physician. A pro-abortion rights doctors group said Jensen was attempting to obscure his past statements in support of an abortion ban.
Earlier this month, Traverse County Attorney Matthew Franzese filed a petition with District Court Judge Thomas Gilligan Jr. asking to intervene in the case. Gilligan in July handed a victory to abortion providers who had filed a lawsuit in 2019 challenging state regulations, including a 24-hour wait period for the procedure.
A mother and foster parent from McGregor, Minnesota, sued under the Minnesota Human Rights Act in 2019 after a pharmacist said he couldn’t fill her prescription for the “morning after" pill Ella because of his religious beliefs. However, the jury found the longtime pharmacist liable for $25,000 in emotional damages. Legal advocacy nonprofit Gender Justice said it will file for an appeal in the case.
The two candidates in the Republican primary for attorney general are political newcomer Jim Schultz and 2018 candidate Doug Wardlow. Incumbent Keith Ellison is the likely DFL nominee.
Abortion pill reversal, a controversial and harmful practice intended to ‘reverse’ an abortion halfway through, is still being advertised by Rochester's First Care Pregnancy Center and other Minnesota anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers. First Care Pregnancy Center does not receive state funds, but five centers that promote the practice do.
Traverse County Attorney Matthew Franzese is petitioning Ramsey County District Court Judge Thomas Gilligan to intervene in a case that ended Minnesota abortion restrictions, including a 24-hour wait period. Attorney General Keith Ellison, who was defending the state’s laws in that case, announced last week he would not appeal the ruling.
Abria Pregnancy Resources is not a political organization, and its centers in St. Paul and Minneapolis “provide a positive alternative to abortion,” officials said.

The high court reaffirmed abortion rights in the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision that said abortion restrictions cannot place an “undue burden” on the right and most recently in 2016, when the court threw out a Texas law that would have imposed difficult-to-meet requirements on clinics and doctors who provide abortions.

The Roe and Casey decisions determined that states cannot ban abortion before a fetus is viable outside the womb, generally viewed by doctors as between 24 and 28 weeks.

ADVERTISEMENT

WHAT IS THE CASE CURRENTLY BEFORE THE COURT?

The nine justices are weighing whether to revive Mississippi's ban on abortion starting at 15 weeks of pregnancy, a law blocked by lower courts as clearly in violation of the Roe v. Wade precedent.

Mississippi's lawyers have urged the court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, to overturn Roe entirely. In May, a leaked draft opinion by conservative Justice Samuel Alito suggested that there is a majority to take that step. The court said in a statement announcing an investigation into the leak that the draft was not the court's final word.

Demonstrators protest near the Supreme Court over abortion rights in Washington
Supporters of reproductive rights argue with anti-abortion protestors near the Supreme Court of the United States in Washington on June 13, 2022.
EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/REUTERS

HOW COULD THE COURT RULE?

Based on December's oral arguments, it appeared the conservative majority was leaning toward upholding the Mississippi law, which would at a minimum gut the central holding of Roe that said states cannot ban abortion pre-viability.

The leaked draft opinion indicated the court could overturn Roe v. Wade altogether. In either scenario, states that want to restrict or ban abortion would have much more leeway to do so, although a total reversal of Roe would make it a lot easier for them.

A scenario in which the court strikes down the Mississippi law does not seem a likely possibility, with the three liberal justices lacking any potential allies from among the conservative justices.

COULD THERE BE A COMPROMISE?

It appears unlikely that a compromise that would meaningfully protect abortion rights is in the cards.

At oral argument, Chief Justice John Roberts seemed interested in a ruling that would uphold the Mississippi law, thereby allowing states to ban abortions before viability, without overruling Roe altogether, but his conservative colleagues did not appear receptive.

ADVERTISEMENT

WHY HAS THE COURT CHANGED COURSE ON ABORTION?

Changes in personnel on the Supreme Court, creating the rock-solid conservative majority, have altered the trajectory on abortion rights. For years, the court had a 5-4 conservative majority that included some moderates like Justice Anthony Kennedy and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor who cast votes to uphold the right to abortion.

That all changed with the four-year presidency of Republican Donald Trump, whose three appointees tilted the court further rightward.

Trump's appointments — Neil Gorsuch in 2017, Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 and Amy Coney Barrett in 2020 — are all likely to be in the majority if the court overturns Roe.

WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS IF THE COURT OVERRULES ROE?

If Roe were overturned or limited, many women in the United States who want to end a pregnancy could face the choice of having a potentially dangerous illegal abortion, traveling to another state where the procedure remains legal and available or buying abortion pills online. The procedure would remain legal in liberal-leaning states, more than a dozen of which have laws protecting abortion rights.

Mississippi is among 13 states with so-called trigger laws designed to ban abortion if Roe is overturned. In total 26 states would quickly move to curtail abortion access, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights research group.

Some legal experts said that a ruling overturning Roe could imperil other freedoms related to marriage, sexuality and family life including birth control and same-sex marriage.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley and Andrew Chung; editing by Grant McCool.)

People rally for abortion rights outside of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington
Law enforcement watch as people rally for abortion rights after an anti-climb protective fence was installed outside of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington on May 5, 2022.
LEAH MILLIS/REUTERS

ADVERTISEMENT

______________________________________________________

This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

What to read next
One of the mightiest storms to hit the U.S. mainland in recent years, Ian flooded communities before plowing across the peninsula to the Atlantic seaboard. Local power companies said more than 2.5 million homes and businesses in Florida remained without power.
The right foods and a good strategy can make even the pickiest of eaters look forward to the midday meal.
The November 2021 $1 trillion infrastructure bill provides $5 billion to help states install EV chargers along interstate highways over five years. States now have access to more than $1.5 billion to help build EV chargers, USDOT said. The White House announced earlier this month it had approved 35 of the 50 state plans.