The Supreme Court has heard arguments this week in Dobbs v. Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization.
This legal case has the possibility to overturn Roe v. Wade and the Planned Parenthood vs Casey cases, which ruled that women have the right to abort babies up to around 24 weeks of pregnancy.
Mississippi law bans almost all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The case being heard this week challenges this law.
After 24 weeks, a fetus is usually considered viable, so the law says it no longer can be aborted.
The arguments for Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization rested on the idea that abortion is a question of liberty, right and autonomy, and for these reasons, it should be upheld. But Justice Clarence Thomas questioned the idea of abortion being a constitutional right.
Julie Rikelman spoke to the court on behalf of the Jackson Women’s Health group, which is the last abortion clinic inside Mississippi, along with United States Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, who said, “If this Court goes against the liberty interests recognized by Roe and reaffirmed by Casey, it would be an unprecedented reversal of personal rights and a stark departure from the ideas of precedent.”
Thomas then immediately questions Prelogar to clarify which right was being spoken about.
“General, would you state what the right is? Is it abortion? Is it autonomy, liberty, privacy?” Thomas asked.
Prelogar said that the right to abortion was founded on liberty, found within the fourteenth amendment, as well as privacy and autonomy.
Justice Thomas replied by asking another question, which seemed to be targeting at questioning the constitutional precedent and “right” being assumed.
“I understand we are talking about abortion here, but what is confusing is that we — if we were speaking about the Second Amendment, I know exactly what we are talking about. If we are talking about the Fourth Amendment, I know because it’s written. It is there. What specifically is it that we are talking about?” Thomas said.
Mississippi’s solicitor general, Scott Stewart, who was there for Dobbs said: “Mr. Chief Justice, and could it please the Court: These two cases haunt our nation. They have no basis within the Constitution,” Stewart said.
Stewart also said that, based on past Supreme Court precedent, assuming the right simply based on autonomy and privacy was not how the Court worked.
Later one, Thomas told the court, “I am trying to find the issue of bodily autonomy and whether she has a right to bodily autonomy in cases of ingesting illegal substances and doing harm to a pre-viability fetus.”
Author: Scott Dowdy
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