United States: Crucial Supreme Court hearing for abortion rights

The Supreme Court is examining this Wednesday an appeal from the State of Mississippi about a law that aims to limit access to voluntary termination of pregnancy (abortion).

Here, abortion rights opponents at the Supreme Court in Washington, June 26, 2018 (Photo illustration).

© REUTERS / Leah Millis

Text by: RFI Follow

2 min

The Supreme Court of the United States examines, this Wednesday, December 1, an appeal from the State of Mississippi about a law that aims to limit access to voluntary termination of pregnancy (abortion).

The southern state of the United States is simply asking the country's highest court to overturn its jurisprudence that guarantees the right to abortion.


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With our correspondent in Washingto


Guillaume Naudin

For anti-abortion activists, this is already a victory.

The simple fact that the Supreme Court accepts to examine a request which clearly calls into question the right to abortion is a novelty.

Until now, the court had always said no.

But now, it is made up of a majority of conservative, even ultra-conservative judges, including the last three appointed by Donald Trump.

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All echelons of the Republican Party supported her for this request, along with the Catholic Church and numerous anti-abortion associations, some of which spent millions of dollars on advertising campaigns before the hearing.

These actors believe that their hour has come after half a century of judicial and political struggle.

Break Roe vs. Wade

The request of the State of Mississippi, in the southern United States, simply seeks to overturn the Roe v Wade judgment of the same Supreme Court, which since 1973 has made voluntary termination of pregnancy a constitutional right.

Failing that, Mississippi asks that more latitude be left to the states in the framework of this right and in the time limits allowed to perform an abortion.

According to current legislation, this is 22-24 weeks after the onset of pregnancy, i.e. the onset of viability of a fetus.

The law introduced by Mississippi in 2018, and which has been blocked so far, proposes 15 weeks.

Equivalent projects

Other states in the South and


have equivalent or even much tougher plans, even going as far as a total ban, ready to be immediately pulled out of the boxes in the event that the court rules in this direction when it makes its planned decision. 'by June 2022. According to the powerful family planning organization, Planned Parenthood, 28 states are expected to do so, and 36 million women of childbearing age are denied access to terminations of pregnancy.

Defenders of women's right to abortions, " 

worried like never before

 ", are closing ranks.

Medical, feminist or civil rights associations have written to the Court asking it to invalidate the Mississippi law, as have hundreds of elected Democrats or 500 high-level athletes, including footballer Megan Rapinoe.

All assure that altering, if only a little, the current jurisprudence, will bring down the whole edifice.

The Supreme Court is expected to render its decision next spring.

What is Roe vs. Wade?

It is one of the most important decisions of the American Supreme Court.

This case law, dating from 1973, is that which recognizes the right to abortion at the federal level, in the name of respect for private life.

It takes its name from the case between "Jane Roe", whose real name is Norma McCorvey, against Texas defense lawyer Henry Wade.

Pregnant for the third time at the age of 21, the young Texan wishes to have an abortion, but the laws of her state prohibit it.

She therefore seized the highest court in the country, which then affirmed that the 14th amendment to the Constitution protects the right of women to dispose of their bodies.

Since this decision, many states have sought to circumvent this case law with the help of new legislation.

If they cannot directly prohibit abortion, they can however require the consent of the spouse or parents, for minors.

Or even reduce the time during which the mother can have an abortion, as is the case in Texas today.


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  • United States

  • Womens rights