By Megan DiTrolio published
On Monday, the Supreme Court agreed to review a major abortion case from Mississippi. In short, the state of Mississippi is trying to enforce a 15-week ban on abortion— a direct challenge to a woman's constitutionally protected right to choose, thanks to Roe v. Wade.
What is at stake?
Here's some history: In 1973, the Supreme Court decided the landmark case Roe v. Wade, reaffirmed in 1982. The Roe v. Wade decision means that the court ruled that states could not ban abortion before the viability of the fetus outside the womb—this basically means that states are blocked from enacting abortion restrictions before a fetus could survive on its own. Doctors generally view this marker to be around 23 or 24 weeks. That means that under Roe v. Wade, states could not ban abortion prior to 23 or 24 weeks.
What's happening in Mississippi?
In 2018, then-Gov. Republican Phil Bryant signed a 15-week ban into law. The ban only had exceptions for medical emergencies or cases in which there is a "severe fetal abnormality," but not for instances of rape or incest. The law was a conscious, direct challenge to Roe v. Wade (as are many restrictive state abortion laws).
After the law was enacted in 2018, the only abortion clinic in Mississippi, Jackson Women's Health Organization, sued to try to block the law. Then, a Jackson, Mississippi federal judge blocked the law, saying the state had chosen to pass something unconstitutional. The Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the judge's decision, which is why the state appealed to the Supreme Court (leading us to this moment).
What happens now?
This news means that the Supreme Court will now consider whether to agree with the lower courts—that the 15 week ban is unconstitutional—or agree with the state and allow them to enforce the ban of abortion after 15 weeks. At large, the Supreme Court will be deciding if all state laws that ban pre-viability abortions are unconstitutional.
Could it lead to Roe v. Wade being overturned?
Reminder: The Supreme Court currently has a 6-to-3 conservative majority. Recently, they ruled to reinstate the mailing of abortion pills during the pandemic, creating additional burden for those seeking care. The outcome of case has the power to drastically limit a woman's right to an abortion— it even could lead to the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
When will the case be heard?
It will be a while before we know what the court will decide. The courts will start hearing arguments during their next term, in October, and a decision is not expected until Summer 2022. Until then, people across the country will wait to hear if they will still have their (constitutionally protected) right to choose.
Megan DiTrolio is the editor of features and special projects at Marie Claire, where she oversees all career coverage and writes and edits stories on women’s issues, politics, cultural trends, and more. In addition to editing feature stories, she programs Marie Claire’s annual Power Trip conference and Marie Claire’s Getting Down To Business Instagram Live franchise.
Royal Experts Say Kate Middleton Isn't Trying to Upstage Camilla Parker Bowles
The Duchess of Cambridge may look like a queen, but she knows how to wait her turn.
By Kathleen Walsh
Jamie Lynn Spears Is Reportedly Skipping the Book Tour
Britney Spears' younger sister says her memoir isn't about the money.
By Kathleen Walsh
Britney Spears Tells Jamie Lynn That She Knows Her "Real Heart" On Twitter
Britney penned another long, heartfelt, open missive to her sister on Twitter.
By Kathleen Walsh
Cory Booker and Rosario Dawson's Relationship Is No More
After three years of dating, the power couple have decided they're better off as friends.
By Marie Claire Editors
Education for Women and Girls Is Crucial for Climate Justice
In an excerpt from her new book, 'A Bigger Picture,' Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate discusses the impact educated African women and girls can have on solving the climate crisis.
By Vanessa Nakate
It’s Time to End Equal Pay Days and Pass the Equal Rights Amendment
The passage of the ERA is a chance for our country to prove it truly values women.
By Hala Ayala
In Conversation: Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Emily Tisch Sussman
“It’s ridiculous that we’re the only advanced nation on the planet that doesn’t help families with childcare.”
By Emily Tisch Sussman
EMILY's List President Laphonza Butler Has Big Plans for the Organization
Under Butler's leadership, the largest resource for women in politics aims to expand Black political power and become more accessible for candidates across the nation.
By Rachel Epstein
Anita Hill Believes We Can End Gender Violence
Three decades after her landmark testimony in the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, the esteemed professor and lawyer has a message for leaders: The time is now to prioritize anti-gender violence policies.
By Rachel Epstein
For Teachers, Going to Work Can Mean Life or Death
Stefanie Minguell, a COVID survivor and second grade teacher in Florida's Broward County, almost died of COVID-19 and is immunocomprised. When she teaches in the classroom, she’s forced to choose between her health and her students.
By Megan DiTrolio
Periods Don’t Stop for Pandemics—And Neither Have Our Nation’s Moms
Policies touted in the $3.5 trillion budget plan and other Congressional bills are missing a core component of maternal well-being: menstrual access and health.
By Christy Turlington Burns