Almost 900 state Democrat lawmakers urged the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to uphold Roe v. Wade and force states to keep late-term abortions legal.
This fall, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a major abortion case out of Mississippi, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, that directly challenges Roe. The question that the justices agreed to consider is “whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortion are unconstitutional.”
In an amicus brief filed Monday, a group of mainly Democrat state lawmakers argued that the Mississippi law is unconstitutional, NBC News reports.
“The justices will be answering one key question in this case: Are pre-viability bans unconstitutional? The answer is yes and decades of precedent have already established that,” said Jennifer Driver, senior director of State Innovation Exchange, a pro-abortion advocacy group that organized the brief. “This brief demonstrates that nearly 1,000 state legislators are fighting back to say this court must maintain 50 years of precedent.”
State lawmakers from 45 states signed the pro-abortion brief, including 895 Democrats and two independents, according to the report. No state lawmakers from Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Arkansas or Wyoming signed the brief.
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They argued that the Supreme Court should follow the precedent established by Roe v. Wade that forces states to legalize the killing of unborn babies in abortions without restriction up to viability.
“If the Court fails to uphold the rule of law and precedent, and instead guts or overturns Roe, there will be disastrous consequences for women seeking abortions, as well as for their families,” the brief states. “Legislators from states at risk of banning abortion in the absence or gutting of Roe have an interest in protecting Roe so abortion remains legal in their state.”
In Roe and later Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Supreme Court prohibited states from banning abortions before an unborn baby is viable. As a result, the U.S. is one of only seven countries in the world that allows elective abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The infamous 1973 ruling resulted in the deaths of nearly 63 million unborn babies and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of mothers.
Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch has asked the high court to allow states to protect unborn babies again.
“The only workable approach to accommodating the competing interests here is to return the matter to ‘legislators, not judges,’” Fitch wrote in her argument to the Supreme Court. “…The national fever on abortion can break only when this Court returns abortion policy to the states – where agreement is more common, compromise is more possible, and disagreement can be resolved at the ballot box.”
Thousands of others, including hundreds of pro-life lawmakers, ivy league professors, state attorneys general, governors, former Vice President Mike Pence, religious and civil rights leaders, hundreds of women leaders and more, have filed briefs to the Supreme Court in support of Mississippi and its efforts to save unborn babies from abortion.
Polls consistently show that a strong majority of Americans oppose most abortions, especially after the first trimester. A new AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll found that 65 percent believe most or all second-trimester abortions should be illegal; the number increased to 80 percent in the third trimester.
Many pro-life leaders have expressed hope that the justices will consider new evidence that unborn babies can feel pain and medical advances that are pushing viability back earlier and earlier in pregnancy. Around the time of Roe v. Wade, babies were considered to be viable at about 28 weeks of pregnancy, but as medicine advanced, the line moved back to 24 weeks and now is about 22 weeks.
There also is growing evidence that unborn babies are capable of feeling intense pain as early as 12 weeks of pregnancy. By 11 weeks, unborn babies have fingers and toes, heartbeats and detectable brain waves. They can respond to touch, yawn, suck their thumbs and even show signs of being right or left handed.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the Mississippi case this fall. It likely will issue an opinion sometime next year.