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Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was a recent Supreme Court case that has sparked controversy and concern among those who support reproductive rights, overturning Roe v. Wade. The case challenges the constitutionality of a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy and significantly impact access to abortion in many states across the United States.
I am going to try to do this with as little political commentary as I possibly can … because I want to educate what I think, as a lawyer, about one of the most important cases of our recent history. This case will have lasting effects on women and girls for the next generations.
A discussion on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization cannot begin without a discussion on Roe v. Wade. I invite you to take a detailed look into this case analysis.
How did the case reach the Supreme Court?
On March 19, 2018, a law was enacted in Mississippi that would have banned abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy, with exceptions only for medical emergencies or severe fetal abnormalities. This law was known as “Gestational Age Act.” Shortly after, then-Governor Phil Bryant (R-MS) signed it into law.
The Center for Reproductive Rights immediately challenged the law to prevent its enforcement.
If you were wondering about the name of the case, Jackson Women’s Health Organization is the only abortion clinic in Mississippi. Thomas E. Dobbs is the State Health Officer of the Mississippi Department of Health.
Judge Carlton W. Reeves in the federal District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, Northern Division granted emergency, temporary relief, blocking the law. In November 2018, Judge Reeves struck down the law because it violated precedent.
Mississippi State filed a petition for certiorari with SCOTUS on June 15, 2020. The Supreme Court then decided Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization on June 24, 2022.
What are the arguments for and against the Mississippi law?
What was the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision?
The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, overturning Roe v. Wade, and holding that the Constitution did not confer a right to abortion.
The first paragraph of Dobbs stated:
Abortion presents a profound moral issue on which Americans hold sharply conflicting views. Some believe fervently that a human person comes into being at conception and that abortion ends an innocent life. Others feel just as strongly that any regulation of abortion invades a woman’s right to control her own body and prevents women from achieving full equality. Still others in a third group think that abortion should be allowed under some but not all circumstances, and those within this group hold a variety of views about the particular restrictions that should be imposed.
We should first to talk about Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, a SCOTUS opinion that was decided in 1992.