U.S. Supreme Court schedules Dec. 1 oral arguments in major abortion case

A coalition of attorneys general from 23 states and the District of Columbia, including Pa., filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court

By: - September 20, 2021 5:20 pm

Protesters at the Supreme Court in March 2020, when the justices were hearing arguments in June Medical Services LLC v. Russo. Robin Bravender/States Newsroom

By Laura Olson

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Dec. 1 in a case that threatens to overturn decades of abortion protections established under the landmark 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade.

The upcoming case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, stems from a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks. It has been blocked by a lower federal court.

The nation’s top court announced in May that it would take up the Mississippi case. Since that announcement, the justices also voted in a 5-4 decision against preventing a more-strict Texas law from taking effect.

That Texas law bans abortions once cardiac activity can be detected — typically around six weeks of pregnancy, and early enough that many women still do not know they are pregnant. It also allows private citizens to file lawsuits against abortion providers and anyone who aids an abortion.

Also on Monday, a coalition of attorneys general from 23 states and the District of Columbia filed an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to deny Mississippi’s request that it declare broadly that there is no constitutionally protected right to an abortion.

That coalition includes attorneys general from Colorado, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

They argue in the brief that the Roe v. Wade decision takes into consideration state interests, while also protecting the ability of individuals to “make one of the most consequential, intimate and properly private decisions” they will ever confront.

In a statement released Monday, the Planned Parenthood Association of PA called 2021 the “most hostile year for reproductive rights.”

 “2021 is officially the most hostile legislative year for sexual and reproductive health and rights since Roe v. Wade was decided nearly 50 years ago. We will continue to work to ensure that every person, no matter their zip code, has access to the health care they need and deserve,” the statement reads.

Congressional Democrats are taking up legislation as soon as this week to enshrine the legal protections from the Roe ruling in federal law. But even if that bill passes the U.S. House, where Democrats hold a slim majority, it’s unlikely to pass in the evenly divided U.S. Senate.

Capital-Star Associate Editor Cassie Miller contributed reporting.

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Laura Olson
Laura Olson

Laura Olson covers the nation's capital as a senior reporter for States Newsroom, a network of nonprofit outlets that includes Pennsylvania Capital-Star. Her areas of coverage include politics and policy, lobbying, elections, and campaign finance.

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