If given the chance, half of the United States would protect unborn babies from abortion, according to the study “What If Roe Fell?” by the Center for Reproductive Rights.
And states may have that chance now that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a major abortion case out of Mississippi.
Many believe the case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that led to 62 million unborn babies’ abortion deaths. Roe and subsequent abortion rulings prohibit states from protecting unborn babies before viability, about 22 weeks.
On Monday, the justices agreed to reconsider that precedent and determine “whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortion are unconstitutional.” The Mississippi law bans abortions on unborn babies after 15 weeks.
If the justices overturn Roe, the Center for Reproductive Rights predicted that 24 states and three territories likely would take swift action to ban abortions, The Hill reports.
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According to its 2019 study, 21 states would keep abortions legal and five others likely would do the same but could be “vulnerable” to changing their laws.
“Eleven states have trigger bans in place,” Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, told The Hill. “That means laws that say if the Supreme Court weakened or reversed Roe that, automatically, they would have abortion be made a crime in their states.”
In recent years, other analyses have predicted anywhere from eight to 31 states would end abortions if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. In 2018, the pro-abortion group NARAL predicted 13 states would immediately ban abortions if Roe is overturned.
A previous estimate by the Center for Reproductive Rights put the number at 31 states. Another analysis by attorney Paul Linton in the journal “Issues in Law and Medicine” in 2012 estimated between eight and 11 states would ban abortions.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the Mississippi case sometime during its next term. A decision is not likely until the spring of 2022.
It is no secret that states have passed a record number of pro-life laws in recent years in an attempt to overturn Roe and restore protections to unborn babies. Yet, abortion activists still believe the majority of America is on their side.
In a statement, Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser said state legislatures are acting on behalf of the people who elected them, and most Americans want better protections for babies in the womb.
“Across the nation, state lawmakers acting on the will of the people have introduced 536 pro-life bills aimed at humanizing our laws and challenging the radical status quo imposed by Roe,” Dannenfelser said. “It is time for the Supreme Court to catch up to scientific reality and the resulting consensus of the American people as expressed in elections and policy.”
Polls consistently show that most Americans want abortions to be illegal or strongly limited, something Roe does not allow.
A May 2020 Gallup poll found that 55 percent of Americans said abortion should be legal “only in a few circumstances” (35 percent) or “illegal in all circumstances” (20 percent).
Similarly, a January Maris/Knights of Columbus poll found that 76 percent of Americans (including 55 percent who identify as pro-choice) support strong limits on abortion.
And there is hope that the Supreme Court will listen to the will of the people. The high court now has a 6-3 conservative majority, and pro-life and pro-abortion activists as well as legal experts believe the Mississippi case could end Roe.
Speaking with The Hill, Geoffrey Stone, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, predicted that the justices will uphold the Mississippi law.
“I think the only reason they would have taken the case is because they want to cut back substantially on Roe,” Stone said. “And this is a case that gives them another opportunity to do so.”