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Yesterday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization by granting a writ of certiorari. When the Court hears oral arguments in October, they will be answering this question: are all pre-viability abortion bans unconstitutional?
The Mississippi law at issue bans abortions after 15 weeks, except in life-of-the-mother cases and cases of poor fetal diagnosis. While not as direct an assault on the abortion-access framework of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey as the recent heartbeat bills, this law provides a good test case against them.
How Will the Decision in Dobbs Affect Roe?
There are a few main possible outcomes to the Dobbs case. The worst outcome is basically a rehash of Casey, in which Roe is reinforced by another case and we retain the status quo with even more case law set against the fight against abortion, resulting in the United States possessing one of the most liberal abortion regimes in the world.
The second, and perhaps most likely, outcome is that the Court upholds the Mississippi law and allows for pre-viability restrictions on abortion, but at the same time doesn’t overturn the central holdings of Roe or Casey. In this scenario, pro-life states would likely be able to restrict abortion after the first trimester, which is a victory but only gets us about as far as European abortion laws.
The third outcome is that the Court would use Dobbs as a vehicle to overturn Roe. This is, of course, the outcome we’re all hoping for and towards which the legal and political arms of the pro-life movement has been working for decades. As a reminder, this would only allow for states to make their own decisions about abortion restrictions; merely overturning Roe would not institute a national ban on abortion.
Dobbs Will Be a Landmark Decision
Make no mistake: even if it’s unlikely that the Court overturns Roe when it releases its decision in Dobbs next year, this is the closest we have come to undoing Roe since the year I was born, when Casey was decided. I’ve written in multiple places on this blog that trusting the Court to make the optimal decision when it comes to abortion is a fool’s errand, but I also think we can and should be cautiously optimistic. It seems unlikely that four conservative justices would vote to hear this case if they didn’t think they could get a fifth vote from one of their fellow conservatives. It’s possible that they could even get six votes.
The holding of Dobbs may not give us everything we want, but it will hopefully give us a further advantage in saving more and more lives from legalized abortion. Even overturning Roe is not our main goal; we want to totally abolish the legalized killing of innocent unborn human beings. We will continue working toward that goal as long as it takes.
In the meantime, Dobbs will be a major case and, no matter how it’s decided, it will ignite deep-seated anger in a significant minority of the country. It will be even more important than ever to remain gracious in your conversations about abortion, especially if the other person seeks to escalate the situation. Our work of changing hearts and minds on the subject of abortion isn’t going away anytime soon, but Dobbs could be a major step forward for the pro-life movement.
If you want to hear an analysis of the decision to grant certiorari in more detail, Josh recommends listening to David French’s podcast on the subject.
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The post The Supreme Court Will Hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization originally appeared at the Equal Rights Institute blog. Subscribe to our email list with the form below and get a FREE gift. Click here to learn more about our pro-life apologetics course, “Equipped for Life: A Fresh Approach to Conversations About Abortion.”
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