The Supreme Court will be hearing a case that could potentially redefine the Roe v. Wade ruling on abortion, which may lead to the nationwide legality of abortion being brought to an end, according to Politico.
The Court announced on Monday that it will take up the case brought about by the state of Mississippi, which passed a state law banning all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The Court will review just one question with regards to the case: The matter of whether or not it is unconstitutional to ban abortion procedures involving a fetus that would not yet be able to survive on its own outside the womb.
The case will be argued before the Court in the fall of this year, which would most likely place a ruling on the case in the summer of 2022.
Mississippi’s law, first passed in 2018, has been consistently blocked by lower courts that have deferred to the original Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973, which legalized abortions nationwide. Most such rulings have referred to the “viability standard” portion of the Roe ruling, which determines that it is legal to abort fetuses that would not be capable of surviving on their own; viability is generally understood to materialize at around 24 weeks of pregnancy. A ruling in favor of Mississippi could potentially redefine the national precedent of Roe and instead give much more leniency to individual states to determine the legality of abortion in their own jurisdiction.
Multiple Republican-led states have passed such bans in recent years, knowing that Roe remains the national standard, but in hopes that such new laws would eventually force a Supreme Court challenge that could overturn the increasingly-outdated precedent. As such, roughly a dozen states have passed laws that have been referred to as “trigger bans;” laws that would immediately enact a statewide ban on abortions only in the event that Roe is overturned.
Conservatives’ hopes for finally overturning Roe are at an all-time high following the presidency of Donald Trump, who confirmed a historic number of federal judges across the country; chief among these judicial appointments were three new Supreme Court justices all confirmed within his first four years, the most new confirmations for a first presidential term since Richard Nixon.
With the confirmations of Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, the Court shifted from a 4-4-1 tied court (four conservatives, four liberals, and one swing justice) to a 6-3 conservative majority. Although the loyalties of Chief Justice John Roberts have since been called into question, the Court could still hypothetically have a majority to overturn Roe with 5 out of 9 votes, in the event that Roberts defects again.