At stake in the Mississippi abortion case heard by the Supreme Court December 1 is access to the procedure for millions of people across the country.
As Justice Brett Kavanaugh made clear at Wednesday’s hearing, the justices are not considering whether to outlaw abortion nationwide. But a decision that overturns current Supreme Court precedent on abortion rights — and one that specifically reverses the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade opinion — could lead to bans on abortions being implemented in several states across the country.
Such a scenario would further cement an environment where a person’s access to the procedure depended on the state she lived in, as state legislatures and state courts would get to decide how much abortion should be restricted.
A dozen states already have on the books so-called “trigger” laws, where bans on abortion would be put into force by a Supreme Court decision reversing Roe. Where legislators are considering passing new restrictive laws after the Supreme Court’s decision, major legislative and legal battles are brewing in anticipation that the Supreme Court is about to green light severe restrictions or outright bans.
“There are going to multiple fights in the states, and then waiting to see what the court will do, and all of it will be very intense across the country,” said Elizabeth Nash, a senior state issues manager at the think tank the Guttmacher Institute, which favors abortion rights.