WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court’s conservative majority on Wednesday signaled it would uphold Mississippi’s 15-week ban on abortion and may go much further to overturn the nationwide right to abortion that has existed for nearly 50 years.
The fate of the court’s historic 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion throughout the United States and its 1992 ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which reaffirmed Roe, probably won’t be known until next June.
But after nearly two hours of arguments, all six conservative justices, including three appointed by former President Donald Trump, indicated they would uphold the Mississippi law.
At the very least, such a decision would undermine Roe and Casey, which allows states to regulate but not ban abortion up until the point of viability, at roughly 24 weeks.
And there was also substantial support among the conservative justices for getting rid of Roe and Casey altogether.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh, a Trump appointee, asked a series of questions about whether the court would be better off withdrawing from the abortion debate and letting states decide.
“Why should the court be the arbiter?” Kavanaugh asked. “There’ll be different access in Mississippi and New York, Alabama and California.”
Abortion would soon become illegal or severely restricted in roughly half the states if Roe and Casey are overturned, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights. Legislatures in many Republican-led states are poised for action depending on the Supreme Court’s next decision.