Nearly 900 state lawmakers in a Monday court filing urged the Supreme Court to uphold Roe v. Wade next term when the justices review a Mississippi abortion restriction.
Legislators from 45 states, nearly all of whom were Democrats except for two independents, signed on to the amicus brief filed by the progressive group State Innovation Exchange in support of a challenge to Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban.
“State legislators are the first line of defense against policies that deliberately roll back progress on abortion rights and reproductive health across the country, and the overwhelming majority of the public agrees we must protect Roe v. Wade,” Jennifer Driver, senior director of the group’s reproductive rights division, said in a statement.
The group argues that the Mississippi law should be invalidated under Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that first recognized a constitutional right to abortion before a fetus is viable, typically around 24 weeks of pregnancy.
The court will hear arguments in the case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, in the term that begins next month and is expected to issue a decision by the end of June.
Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch (R), who is defending the law, explicitly urged the justices to use the case as a vehicle to overrule Roe and related rulings, calling the court’s precedent on abortion “egregiously wrong.”
A dozen Republican governors in a friend-of-the-court brief have also asked the justices to eliminate federal abortion protections in order to allow states to regulate the procedure.
Mississippi’s appeal to the Supreme Court followed losses in the lower courts. In 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled that Mississippi's restriction was an unconstitutional ban on a woman’s right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy before fetal viability.
The 15-week abortion ban makes exceptions for only a medical emergency or a “severe fetal abnormality.”
Abortion opponents are hoping for a sympathetic audience with a Supreme Court bench composed of six conservative justices, including three appointees of former President TrumpDonald TrumpSix big off-year elections you might be missing Twitter suspends GOP Rep. Banks for misgendering trans health official Meghan McCain to Trump: 'Thanks for the publicity' MORE.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court in a 5-4 vote turned down an emergency request from abortion providers to block Texas's new six-week abortion ban.
Legal experts said the Supreme Court’s refusal to block the restrictive Texas measure could foreshadow further erosion of reproductive rights when the conservative majority court weighs the Mississippi law.
Abortion rights advocates warned of ensuing chaos if the Supreme Court were to overrule long-standing precedent protecting the constitutional right to abortion.
More than 90 abortion restrictions have already been enacted this year, according to the abortion rights think tank the Guttmacher Institute, which has called 2021 “the worst legislative year ever” for abortion rights in the U.S.
Nearly 7 in 10 say they agree with the Roe decision and more Americans — by a 48 to 35 margin — say the Supreme Court should make it easier and not harder to get an abortion, according to recent polling by Quinnipiac University.