Supreme Court sets a date for arguments in Mississippi abortion case that could overturn Roe v. Wade weeks after allowing Texas's restrictive 6-week abortion ban to go into effect
- The Supreme Court will hear arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization on December 1, the court's arguments calendar revealed Monday
- Governor Tate Reeves previous called the lawsuit a 'vehicle' for overturning Roe
- Pro-choice activists have said the 'stakes could not be higher' in the case and that it has the potential to 'eliminate abortion completely' in the South
- Every federal elected Republican official supports Mississippi in the suit
By Elizabeth Elkind and Associated Press
The Supreme Court will hear arguments in Mississippi's bid to have the landmark Roe v. Wade decision guaranteeing a woman´s right to an abortion overturned on December 1, just weeks after it allowed Texas's restrictive new abortion law to go into effect.
The court issued its arguments calendar for late November and early December on Monday.
Mississippi is asking the high court to uphold its ban on most abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy.
Nancy Northup, president and CEO of pro-choice group Center for Reproductive Rights, warned the Supreme Court ruling in favor of the state could 'eliminate abortion completely' in the South.
'If the Court grants Mississippi's request to overturn Roe, large swaths of the South and Midwest - where abortion is already hard to access - will eliminate abortion completely. More than two generations of Americans have lived their lives relying on access to legal abortion,' Northup said.
'The ability to make this decision is central to gender equality, and racial and economic justice. The stakes could not be higher.'
In Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, the state has told the court it should overrule Roe and the 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey that prevent states from banning abortion before viability, the point at which a fetus can survive outside the womb, around 24 weeks of pregnancy.
Governor Tate Reeves called Roe a 'mistake' during a June CNN interview and said the lawsuit was a 'vehicle' for revisiting the landmark ruling.
The Mississippi law was enacted in 2018, but was blocked after a federal court challenge. The state's only abortion clinic, Jackson Women´s Health Organization, remains open and offers abortions up to 16 weeks of pregnancy.
About 100 abortions a year are done after the 15th week, the providers said.
Months before the Supreme Court announced a date for arguments, the political battle over Mississippi's abortion law was heating up.
Massachusetts Democrat Rep. Katherine Clark said the move was expected and was why the Democrat-controlled House will take up the Women's Health Protection Act of 2021 to protect abortion on a federal level.
'We knew this was coming. And we know these bans will keep coming. That's why this week, the House is taking action & passing the Women's Health Protection Act,' Clark wrote on Twitter on Monday.
'[Abortion is healthcare] - no no matter your zip code or income. We must defend every woman's constitutional right to care.'
Also on Monday, nearly 900 state legislators from 45 different states signed onto a brief asking the Supreme Court to uphold Roe v. Wade and reject Mississippi's abortion ban, according to a copy of the brief obtained by NBC.
The Women's Health Protection Act of 2021: Democrat-backed law for no time limits on abortions 'prior to fetal viability'
Allows abortion nationwide without time limits 'prior to fetal viability' and even afterwards if the abortion provider deems the pregnancy would pose a risk to the patient's life or health
Prohibits arbitrary requirements on abortion procedures and unnecessary tests
Prohibits abortion providers from requiring in-person visits before the procedure if they aren't medically necessary
Restricts abortion providers from giving the patient 'medically inaccurate information' during or after services
Prevents states from issuing arbitrary credential requirements for medical facilities providing abortions
Allows abortion providers to provide immediate services if they deem a delay would risk the patient's health
Prohibits limits on what medically-approved drugs abortion providers can prescribe
More than 500 current and former female athletes also signed onto an amicus brief urging the court to rule against Mississippi.
Olympians and professional athletes like Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird signed on.
Meanwhile all of the state's Republican federal lawmakers - two senators and three out of four representatives - filed an amicus brief in late July urging the high court to uphold the pro-life law.
'Mississippi is at the forefront of the fight for life, and I am glad to lead the charge in Congress on behalf of the unborn,' Senator Roger Wicker said in a statement.
'For too long, the precedents of Roe and Casey have prevented states from taking meaningful steps to protect life in the womb. My colleagues and I are urging the Supreme Court to correct these decades of injustice.'
Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith added, 'As a Senator, as a woman, and as a mother, I think this case offers us a chance to overturn Roe and return the abortion issue to the political process and away from activist judges.'
Rep. Bennie Thompson, Mississippi's lone Democrat in the federal government, didn't immediately respond to DailyMail.com's request for comment.
Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves was also contacted by DailyMail.com but has not replied.
A spokesperson for Rep. Michael Guest's office sent DailyMail.com an earlier statement calling the case 'a strong step' toward pro-life reforms.
'Mississippi remains united in our desire to protect the lives of our unborn children, which is why the Mississippi [Congressional] delegation has come together to support the right to life movement in an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court. This case is a strong step in defending our unborn children and I am thankful for the opportunity to support their right to life,' Guest said.
The court recently allowed a restrictive Texas law to take effect that bans abortions after cardiac activity can be detected, around 6 weeks of pregnancy, before many women even know they are pregnant.
The law is unusual in that it allows private citizens to sue people who may have facilitated a prohibited abortion.
The court, split 5-4, did not rule on the constitutionality of the law, but rather declined to block enforcement while a challenge to the law plays out in the courts.
Still, abortion providers took the vote as an ominous sign about where the court, its conservative majority fortified with three appointees of former President Donald Trump, might be heading on abortion.
The providers have said Mississippi wants the court to 'scuttle a half-century of precedent and invite states to ban abortion entirely.'
More than 90 percent of abortions in the U.S. take place in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The justices will be at their seats in the marble courtroom for the biggest test of abortion rights in decades.
The high court announced earlier this month that the justices plan to return to their majestic, marble courtroom for arguments beginning in October, more than a year and a half after the in-person sessions were halted because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The court is allowing live audio of the session, but members of the public will not be able to attend in person because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Reporters who cover the court regularly will be present.
The justices all have been vaccinated, the court has said, allowing a return to in-person arguments after more than a year of arguments via telephone. The courthouse remains closed to the public.
The justices had been hearing cases by phone during the pandemic.