After the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on Monday evening, the court announced plans to consider hearing a case on Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, also known as “The Gestational Age Act.” Lower courts had previously declared the ban unconstitutional under the precedent of Roe v. Wade, but the Mississippi Attorney General filed the case with the Supreme Court this summer, and the court will decide whether to hear the case this Friday.
The Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch is specifically asking the Supreme Court to overturn one of Roe v. Wade’s central arguments, that “a State may not prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy before (fetal) viability.” The lower courts had ruled that banning abortions at 15 weeks was unconstitutional because medical science agrees that fetuses become viable outside the womb at around 24 weeks.
“This Court should grant the petition, hold that it is illogical to impose a ‘rigid line allowing state regulation after viability but prohibiting it before viability” and “uphold the Gestational Age Act,” Attorney General Lynn Fitch wrote in a filing with the U.S. Supreme Court over the summer.
Mississippi law already bans abortions after 20 weeks, and the only abortion clinic in the entire state does not perform abortions after 16 weeks. Fitch also wrote that this case is “an ideal vehicle to promptly resolve” questions about the current Supreme Court’s position on abortion rights and Roe v. Wade more specifically. That’s... not at all ominous.
This is far from the first time that conservative legislators in Mississippi have attempted to get rid of legal abortion in the state. In 2014, a federal appeals panel struck down an anti-abortion measure that would have caused the last abortion clinic in the state to close after a two-year fight.
Lynn Fitch’s campaign against abortion began just days after she became Mississippi Attorney General, when she gathered with Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves and then-Mississippi State Senator (and pastor) Gary Jackson to literally pray for an end to abortion. Mind you, even if Roe v. Wade is struck down, people will still find ways to get abortions—but for most of us, it’ll just be much more dangerous.