Mississippi Asks Supreme Court to Uphold Late-Term Abortion Ban, Case Could Overturn Roe

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Oct 23, 2020   |   11:12AM   |   Jackson, MS

The first female attorney general of Mississippi urged the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday to allow her state to protect unborn babies from abortions, at the very minimum, after the first trimester.

Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch asked the high court to consider the 15-week abortion ban earlier this summer. On Thursday, she filed a supplemental brief with arguments based on another abortion case that the Supreme Court ruled on in JuneCBS News reports.

The 2018 Mississippi law prohibits abortions after 15 weeks except when there are risks to the life or physical health of the mother, or fatal fetal anomalies. Based on state health records, about 200 unborn babies between 15 and 20 weeks are aborted every year in Mississippi.

However, the state has not been allowed to enforce the pro-life law because of a pro-abortion legal challenge.

“The petition asks the court to clarify its jurisprudence on abortion to allow states like ours to enact laws that further their legitimate interests in protecting maternal health, safeguarding unborn babies, and promoting respect for innocent and vulnerable life,” Fitch said in a statement in June. “We are hopeful that the court will accept our case and allow Mississippi to defend innocent life as the legislature and the people of this great state intend.”

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According to CBS, Fitch’s new brief referred to the high court’s recent ruling on a Louisiana abortion regulation in June Medical Services v. Russo. She pointed out conflicting lower court rulings that cite the arguments in that case and asked the Supreme Court for clarification, the report states.

“This case remains an ideal vehicle to promptly resolve both that question and the first question presented—the contradictions in this Court’s decisions over use of ‘viability’ as a bright line for measuring pro-life legislation,” she wrote.

Many states have pro-life laws that protect unborn children after 20-24 weeks of pregnancy, which is the most they are able to do considering the Supreme Court refuses to allow states to ban abortions prior to viability. Through this new case, Mississippi is challenging that precedent.

Polls consistently find strong public support for abortion restrictions after the first trimester. Gallup has been asking about the legality of abortions by trimester for decades. Its polls have found steady, strong opposition to abortions in the second and third trimesters.

Additionally, a 2019 Hill-HarrisX poll found that 55 percent of voters said they do not think laws banning abortions after six weeks – when an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable – are too restrictive.

In a separate case, Mississippi also is fighting in court to defend its heartbeat law, which would protect almost all unborn babies from abortions in the state.

The Supreme Court took away the states’ ability to protect unborn babies from abortion, and instead allowed abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy. Roe made the United States one of only seven countries in the world that allows elective abortions after 20 weeks.

There is more hope that the Supreme Court may consider overturning Roe, especially if Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed, but it is difficult to say if it would for certain.