NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Supreme Court will hear Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, the case could allow states to impose more restrictive abortion measures.
If the Mississippi law is upheld, trigger laws in Tennessee banning abortions (unless it is to prevent the death or serious injury to a woman) could immediately become law.
There has been mixed reaction to the highest court in the land setting the stage for a monumental ruling on abortion rights not seen in decades.
“I think it’s good news, we hate seeing children aborted,” said Scott Hord, a Planned Parenthood protestor and owner of Missionary to the Unborn.
Abortion rights advocates say there is some cause to be alarmed.
“Whether or not you agree with abortion, I think it’s a recognition that those rights belong to that individual and not to government,” said Francie Hunt, executive director of Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood.
The issue on the table is whether states can restrict abortions at 15 weeks, or prior to viability, presenting a direct challenge to the Roe v. Wade ruling which states viability starts around 24 weeks into pregnancy.
“Roe used to provide a more robust protection for a woman’s right to choose, it’s been whittled away over the years, but its core idea is that until a baby can live outside, a developing fetus can live outside a woman’s body, that the woman has the right, the authority, the responsibility to decide what to do,” said Matt Steffey, a constitutional law professor at Mississippi College.
If Roe v. Wade is gutted, trigger laws in several states, including Tennessee, could ban abortions.
Governor Bill Lee signed the “Heartbeat Bill” into law last year. The measure bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks into pregnancy.
The law was temporarily blocked by the courts and will go before the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday.
“This decision at least raises the possibility of taking that choice away from women and putting it instead with the Tennessee or Mississippi legislature,” Steffey said.
Those who want to keep abortion as a legal option say a successful attempt to overturn or limit abortion services will unfairly impact minorities.
“A lot of those access issues are determined by someone’s power and privilege and ability to access resources, so we’ll see a particular challenge for low-income communities, women of color in particular,” Hunt said.
The Supreme Court is expected to hear the case in the fall and issue a decision in the summer of 2022.