The U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade (1973) held that women have a constitutional right of privacy to kill their unborn babies until the stage of viability. The state has a compelling interest to protect unborn life and restrict abortion if the baby can live outside the womb, the court contended. During the second trimester, the state may regulate abortion “in ways that are reasonably related to maternal health.” During the third trimester, the state may restrict or ban abortion “except where necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health of the mother.”
Although no such right is stated or implied in the U.S. Constitution, Roe became known as “the law of the land.” Pro-lifers have longed to see Roe overturned, and they could get their wish later this year. The high court has agreed to hear a case that directly challenges Roe. Mississippi bans abortions after 15 weeks; however, the state has been blocked from enforcing the law since 2018. Mississippi will ask the court to reject the viability standard for banning abortions.
The court, with its 6-3 “conservative” majority, will decide whether this law violates a woman’s “right of privacy” to kill her unborn baby before the baby is able to live outside the womb.
Should pro-lifers be worried about this decision, as some are worried about the gun-rights case the Supreme Court decided to hear? The issue in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Corlett is whether law-abiding New York residents may carry handguns outside their homes for self-defense. If the plaintiffs lose, the high court could set a precedent for certain state and local governments to maintain concealed carry restrictions or add restrictions to existing carry laws, citing another “law of the land” decision.
An unfavorable decision in the abortion case might not be that extreme. The Supreme Court could overturn Mississippi’s pro-life law, upholding Roe and maintaining the status quo. The ideal outcome would be to overturn Roe, which will allow states to set their own abortion laws.