Crucial hearing for abortion rights at the United States Supreme Court

The future of abortion rights in the United States is being played out on Wednesday before a Supreme Court radically overhauled by Donald Trump, which could use the review of a Mississippi law to go back almost 50 years.

The nine wise men, including six conservatives, will consider from 10 a.m. Quebec time on a law adopted in 2018 by this southern state, which prohibits abortions after fifteen weeks of pregnancy. She is expected to make her decision next spring.

The law, measured against other legislation adopted in recent years, nonetheless violates the legal framework set by the Supreme Court. By agreeing to examine it, the High Court therefore sent the signal that it was ready to review its copy.

This goes back to 1973: in its emblematic Roe v. Wade, the Court held that the Constitution guaranteed a right of women to have an abortion and that the states could not deprive them of it. In 1992, she clarified that it was valid as long as the fetus was not “viable”, ie around 22 to 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Acknowledging this jurisprudence, federal courts blocked Mississippi law before it came into effect. The leaders of this rural and religious state then turned to the Supreme Court.

When it accepted their appeal, when there was no obligation to do so, the Court explained that it was ready to question the limit of “viability”. But Mississippi is now asking him to go further and simply cancel his 1973 shutdown.

“We are aware of the impact of our request,” State Attorney General Lynn Fitch said in an editorial to the Washington Post. “But, 49 years ago, the Court favored political intuition over sound legal reasoning to reach a constitutionally unfounded conclusion and it is time to correct that error. “


All levels of the Republican Party supported him, along with the Catholic Church and numerous anti-abortion groups, some of which spent millions of dollars on advertising campaigns ahead of the hearing.

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

“We are about to enter a new era, where the Supreme Court will return the Roe v. Wade in the dungeons of history, which he should never have left, ”said former vice-president Mike Pence, a Christian ultraconservative, on the eve of the hearing.

Opponents of abortion are galvanized by the arrival at the Supreme Court of three judges appointed by former President Donald Trump who have strengthened his conservative majority.

Their influence was already felt on September 1, when the temple of American law refused, for procedural reasons, to block the entry into force of a law in Texas which prohibits abortion as early as six weeks of pregnancy. .

He has since reopened the case and expressed his skepticism about the architecture of the text, but his final decision is long overdue and many Texans remain forced to leave their state to have an abortion.

36 millions

On the other hand, defenders of the right of women to have abortions, “worried as ever”, 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.

If the viability criterion is abandoned, “States will be able to prohibit abortions at any stage of pregnancy,” notes Julie Rikelman, who will plead before the nine wise men on behalf of the only clinic practicing abortions. in Mississippi.

According to the powerful family planning organization, Planned Parenthood, 28 states are likely to do so, and 36 million women of childbearing age are denied access to terminations of pregnancy.

Even without saying it, validating Mississippi’s law “would be like overturning Roe,” says Julie Rikelman.

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