WASHINGTON — The United States Supreme Court announced that it will be taking up a Mississippi abortion case next term that poses the largest threat to Roe v. Wade in decades.
The implications of that decision will have a widespread effect, including here in Texas, where the legislature has passed significant abortion restrictions this session.
“This is a direct affront to 50 years of precedent, and it's concerning," said Aimee Arrambide, executive director at Avow Texas.
Abortion rights activists like Aimee Arrambide reacted with alarm Monday when the Supreme Court announced it will hear an abortion case next term that has the potential to effectively overturn Roe v. Wade.
The case centers on whether a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks is constitutional.
“Roe v. Wade has been the law of the land for over 40 years close to 50 years, but it's always been the floor, abortion care has never been accessible for the most marginalized populations and these laws and these court cases will continue to put abortion out of reach for the most marginalized," said Arrambide.
It’s the first time the highest court in the country is hearing an abortion-related case since it shifted to a 6-3 conservative majority.
Both of the newest additions to the court, Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney-Barrett, have previously indicated they are in favor of overturning Roe.
The makeup of the court has anti-abortion advocates like Joe Pojman optimistic.
“We think we have more votes on the Supreme Court, more justices who are willing to take a fresh look at the Roe v. Wade precedent and possibly untie the hands of the legislature so they can begin to protect unborn babies from abortion," said Joe Pojman, executive director of Texas Alliance for Life.
"I think it's not just possible, I think it's reasonably likely that Roe v. Wade will at least be significantly eroded, if not completely overturned. There may very well be a five justice majority to do that now," said Dale Carpenter, a constitutional law professor at Southern Methodist University.
This legislative session, lawmakers passed bills increasing abortion restrictions in the state, including one that would ban abortions as early as six weeks, which is before most women know they are pregnant.
It’s set to go to the Governor’s desk, where Abbott says he will sign it into law.
“Acting through our elected officials, Texas has shown itself to be a very pro-life state," said Pojman. "We think that an unborn child is worthy of protection, and that is the right and the responsibility of the state of Texas."
“The majority of Texans support abortion access, and they also oppose like creating further bans," said Arrambide. "However… instead of prioritizing making healthcare more accessible… the legislature keeps enacting bills that do not represent the majority of Texans.”
The Supreme Court won’t hear the Mississippi case until the fall, with a decision expected sometime in spring or summer of 2022.
In the meantime, the Texas bill is likely to face challenges in court, as activists on both sides of the issue continue the fight on a more local level.
"I'm sure abortion rights advocates will sue immediately," Carpenter said. "They will probably succeed in getting a court to enjoin enforcement of the law and then we will just wait for the Supreme Court's decision, which could come maybe as early as March in 2022 or as late as June 2022. That's when the court usually decides the really big cases and this will be a really big case."
“This attack on Roe v. Wade specifically by taking up this case means it's more important than ever that we need to ensure the right at the state level," said Arrambide. "We believe that every Texan should be able to determine their own future and that includes making sure they have access to abortion care.”
“Our hope is that the Supreme Court will return this question very important question back to the states, where it was before Roe v. Wade came down in 1973," said Pojman.