Pro-life organizations across the nation are urging the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Earlier this year, the court agreed to hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a Mississippi case involving the state’s law banning abortions after 15 weeks.
The Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and religious freedom advocate Becket are among groups filing amicus briefs in support of the state of Mississippi.
The friend-of-the-court briefs call on the Supreme Court to reverse the 1973 decision that legalized abortion in the U.S. and the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey opinion that affirmed Roe but permitted some state regulation of the procedure, as well as related cases.
The ERLC joined other pro-life organizations, including the National Association of Evangelicals and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, in an amicus brief filed July 27 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The ERLC requests the court uphold the Mississippi ban and said “the Constitution does not create a right to an abortion of an unborn child before viability or at any other stage of pregnancy. … An asserted right to abortion has no basis in constitutional text or in American history and tradition.”
The high court’s rule in Roe and Casey that prohibits states from banning abortions before an unborn child is viable “is deeply flawed,” the brief said. “These decisions, insofar as they impede the ability of states to prohibit abortion before viability, should be overruled.”
“The case represents a significant opportunity for the pro-life movement as hundreds of proposed state laws protecting the unborn could potentially take effect,” the ERLC said in a statement.
“Government has many responsibilities. Chief among them is protecting innocent life,” said Brent Leatherwood, ERLC chief of staff. “How much more important is that responsibility when it comes to protecting preborn lives that cannot speak for themselves? Christians have long pleaded the case for America to recognize the inherent dignity of our most vulnerable neighbors. This case gives us another opportunity to do so.
“Until that happens, our nation will not be able to fully achieve that lofty goal of being a land that preserves life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for every individual.”
Pre-viability bans at issue
The Mississippi law bans abortion after 15 weeks, pushing the boundaries of fetal “viability,” or the potential for the unborn baby to survive outside the womb. The viability standard has been used in U.S. constitutional law since the Roe decision.
Many medical experts say viability begins around 24 weeks of pregnancy, while the Mississippi law uses research that says a fetus can feel pain as early as 15 weeks, pushing the limits of what the Supreme Court has allowed in the past.
Justices considered the Dobbs case more than a dozen times before announcing May 17 that they would take up the first question presented in the state’s petition: whether all pre-viability bans on elective abortions violate the Constitution.
Becket also filed its amicus brief July 27.
In a brief filed July 22, the Alabama Center for Law and Liberty, – the litigation arm of the Alabama Policy Institute – the ACLL praised the court’s willingness to “revisit the viability standard.”
“The court’s abortion framework, including the viability standard, does not comport with other areas of the law that protect the rights of unborn children,” said Matt Clark, ACLL executive director. “Taken to its logical conclusion, the viability rule means that one person can kill another if the latter is dependent on him to live, which is horrifying.”
Clark continued, “If the Supreme Court agrees to toss the viability standard, it will necessarily have to ask what should replace it. We therefore argued that the ourt will not be able to escape the question of whether the Constitution protects a right to abortion at all.
“Because it does not, and because Roe and its progeny have cost over 60 million lives since 1973, we urged the Court to take this opportunity to throw out Roe altogether.”
The Supreme Court has yet to schedule arguments for the case in its next term, which begins in October, but is expected to issue an opinion before it adjourns next summer.