NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Some are calling it the most consequential abortion rights case in decades. Oral arguments were held in front of the Supreme Court Wednesday regarding a Mississippi law that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
The case will also decide if decades of legal abortion precedent should be overturned.
Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey set a precedent for nearly 50 years. The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion throughout the United States states. The 1992 ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey reaffirmed that decision which allows states to regulate but not ban abortion up until the point of viability, at roughly 24 weeks.
“It has enormous symbolic importance and enormous practical importance,” said Matt Steffey, a Mississippi College School of Law professor.
With the Mississippi abortion law challenge in the hands of the Supreme Court, some are hoping precedent is overturned and left to states to decide. “We’re hoping there are other states or all the states will start seeing the difference and noticing that abortion is wrong,” Jimmy Ramsey said.
However, women’s healthcare advocates say access to abortion care is a protected right regardless of personal opinions.
“The protections that pregnant people have, that women have right now when they’re pregnant, over decisions that they can make over their own bodies, in healthcare and families was something that was protected through Roe v. Wade,” said Francie Hunt, Executive Director of Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood said.
An elimination or change of Roe could allow states to make their own determinations about abortions like Tennessee has attempted to do.
“There’s a reason we have federal protections for bodily autonomy, we see nationally we have about half the country poised to have abortion bans,” Hunt said.
The Volunteer State’s trigger laws and laws held up in court due to constitutionality could come into place if its overturned.
“We have a few bans on the books here in Tennessee that’s passed through the Tennessee General Assembly and the trigger ban is essentially if Roe V. Wade is undermined in whole or in part that — that could trigger a ban here in Tennessee within 30 days,” Hunt said.
But all eyes are on the high court with its new conservative majority.
“One of the arguments for preserving Roe that’s been made in the briefing is that, to overturn it now, based on nothing more than a change in personnel, would diminish the courts standing and further erode the perception that this is a court of law and instead support the idea that it’s a mere organ of public opinion,” Steffey said.