Court Battles

228 Republican lawmakers urge Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade

Scores of congressional Republicans on Thursday urged the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade next term when the justices review a restrictive Mississippi abortion law.

The GOP lawmakers, 44 senators and 184 House members, argued in an amicus brief that the landmark 1973 decision in Roe and related rulings represent “a vise grip on abortion politics.” 

“Congress and the States have shown that they are ready and able to address the issue in ways that reflect Americans’ varying viewpoints and are grounded in the science of fetal development and maternal health,” wrote the lawmakers, who represent 40 states.

Among the signatories were Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and other Republican leadership members. Earlier this week, a trio of conservative Senate Republicans — Josh Hawley (Mo.), Mike Lee (Utah) and Ted Cruz (Texas) — filed a separate amicus brief in the case.  

The Thursday filing comes after Mississippi’s attorney general urged the justices last week in a brief to overrule Roe when the justices review Mississippi’s ban on virtually all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

On Thursday, Mississippi also received backing from a dozen Republican governors who asked the Supreme Court to eliminate federal abortion protections and instead allow states to regulate the procedure.

Abortion rights advocates warn that access would be sharply curtailed across the country if the Supreme Court uses next term’s Mississippi case to overturn Roe v. Wade. An analysis done in 2019 by the Center for Reproductive Rights entitled “What If Roe Fell?” found that the burden would fall most heavily on the American South and Midwest.

According to the report, abortion would remain legal in 21 states, while 24 states and three territories would likely move to impose some form of ban. In the remaining five states, abortion would remain “accessible but vulnerable.”

Court precedent tracing back to Roe prohibits states from banning abortion before fetal viability, which occurs around 24 weeks, and from placing an “undue burden” on abortion access. The Mississippi law at issue next term creates only narrow exceptions from its 15-week ban on elective abortions. 

The state’s appeal comes after it lost two rounds in the lower courts. In 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit held that Mississippi’s restriction was an unconstitutional ban on a woman’s right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy before fetal viability. 

The appeals court found that Mississippi’s restriction violated “an unbroken line dating to Roe v. Wade,” in which the Supreme Court has consistently reaffirmed “a woman’s right to choose an abortion before viability.” 

Abortion opponents, however, believe the current Supreme Court, with a 6-3 conservative majority, represents their best chance in decades to see the constitutional right to abortion eroded.

Tags Abortion Josh Hawley Kevin McCarthy Mike Lee Mississippi Mitch McConnell Roe v. Wade Supreme Court Ted Cruz
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