The conservative-dominated US Supreme Court on Wednesday appeared poised to roll back abortion rights in the US by upholding a law in the southern state of Mississippi that would ban the procedure after 15 weeks.
Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the imposing court in Washington as the nine justices heard two hours of arguments in the most pivotal abortion case to reach the nation’s highest court in 50 years.
Mississippi Solicitor General Scott Stewart urged the court to uphold the state’s 15-week ban and strike down the landmark cases that enshrined a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.
While acknowledging abortion is a “hard issue,” Stewart argued before the court that individual states should be allowed to set their own rules.
“When an issue affects everyone and when the constitution does not take sides on it, it belongs to the people,” Stewart said. “This court should overrule Roe and Casey, and uphold the state’s law.”
In a 1973 ruling, Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court, by a 7-2 vote, held that access to abortion is a constitutional right until the fetus is viable outside the womb, typically 22 to 24 weeks.
In a 1992 ruling, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the court upheld Roe and said states cannot impose an “undue burden” on a woman’s ability to get an abortion.
The law passed in Mississippi by the Republican-led legislature would ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
The law makes no exception for rape or incest.
Should the Mississippi law be upheld, more than two dozen other US states are expected to seek to restrict abortion.
The court is expected to render its decision in June.
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