The U.S. Supreme Court revealed Monday that it will hear oral arguments in a major abortion case on Dec. 1, kicking off a process that could ultimately cut off abortion access in dozens of states.
The case out of Mississippi, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that protects a woman’s right to access abortion without excessive government restriction.
The justices announced in May that they would take up the Mississippi case, which concerns a ban on nearly all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy and the question of whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.
If the court decides in favor of the ban, it would essentially be tossing out the protections established by Roe v. Wade in 1973. It’s expected that an estimated 24 states would then immediately ban access to the procedure.
“The stakes here are extraordinarily high,” Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said when the Supreme Court agreed to take up the case in May. “If the court were to weaken the right to abortion, abortion would likely be banned ― banned entirely in half of the country, many places in the South and the Midwest.”
Because of the three additions to the court during the Trump presidency, opponents of abortion restrictions will have to make their case before a panel of justices who are predominantly conservative and hostile to the procedure. At the moment, the court only has three members firmly committed to upholding Roe v. Wade, but five would be needed to do so.
The same day the Supreme Court made its announcement, President Joe Biden’s administration reaffirmed its support for abortion access and the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would create federal-level abortion protections.