NBC justice correspondent: SCOTUS appears poised to 'blow a big hole' in abortion rights

Longtime NBC News justice corespondent Pete Williams says the Supreme Court could deal a major blow to abortion rights during its new term, which began Monday. 

"It does seem very likely that the court will blow a big hole in abortion rights, if not overturn Roe V. Wade altogether," Williams said on MSNBC on Monday. "This is the case from Mississippi. The Supreme Court has held through the last several decades that states can restrict abortion in the period before viability, which is thought to be about 23 or 24 weeks, but cannot ban it during that period." 

Williams was speaking in reference to Mississippi law that would ban all abortion in the state after 15 weeks of pregnancy. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Challengers to Mississippi’s 15-week ban say that it should be invalidated under Roe v. Wade, which recognized a constitutional right to abortion before a fetus is viable, typically around 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Supporters of the law are urging the high court to overturn Roe v. Wade entirely.

The Mississippi law, from a legal perspective, represents "a direct challenge to Roe, and the state says that the court should overturn Roe," Williams said. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Thousands of people took to the streets of Washington, D.C.; Austin, Texas; and cities around the nation Saturday morning to protest against recent abortion restrictions, such as the ones passed into law by states including Mississippi and Texas.

Late last month, the court voted to refuse to block a Texas law that bans almost all abortions, a decision which liberals described in a dissent as “stunning.”

“Presented with an application to enjoin a flagrantly unconstitutional law engineered to prohibit women from exercising their constitutional rights and evade judicial scrutiny, a majority of Justices have opted to bury their heads in the sand,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor, wrote of the court's decision in the Texas case. 

The high court is slated to hear arguments in the Mississippi case beginning Dec. 1.