The influential Wall Street Journal editorial page recently called for the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion to be overturned in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case from Mississippi currently being considered by the court.
In the April 26 article, the Journal noted, “Abortion and the Supreme Court: This is the moment for the Justices to turn the issue over to the voters,” the national newspaper’s editorial board stated, “The Supreme Court will soon decide an abortion case in which Mississippi has asked the Justices to overturn Roe v. Wade. The oral argument suggested that five Justices lean toward doing so, but a ferocious lobbying campaign is trying to change their minds.
The article added, “All of this is aimed at swaying the Justices to step back from overturning Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey because the political backlash against the Court will be ferocious. The particular targets are Justices Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh, the two newest Justices.”
Sorting the issue out
The editorial board pointed out if Roe v. Wade is overturned, abortions will not disappear from the U.S.
“It might in some states, but in some of those states there are already relatively few clinics that perform abortions. The likeliest result is a multiplicity of laws depending on how the debate and elections go. California might allow abortion until the moment of birth. Mississippi might ban it except in cases of rape or incest.
“This is how the American system is supposed to work, as the late Justice Antonin Scalia often wrote,” the article said. “After a series of elections, abortion law will sort itself out democratically. That had started to happen before the Supreme Court intervened in Roe, embittering the abortion debate and damaging the Court.”
Kenny Digby, executive director-treasurer of the Mississippi Baptist Christian Action Commission, has said, “Hopefully the five ‘conservative’ justices will uphold the Mississippi statute limiting abortion in our state. To reconsider the legal validity of Roe v. Wade will probably require some courage on the part of the swing voter in many of the court’s 5-4 cases: Chief Justice John Roberts. He needs our prayers.
Digby noted, “We are so very proud of our state leadership — especially our Attorney General Lynn Fitch and her staff — for defending the Mississippi law before the Supreme Court,” Digby said. “They need our prayers.”
Background on the case
Thomas Dobbs is the State Health Officer at the Mississippi Department of Health. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, located on North State Street in Jackson, is the sole remaining abortion clinic in the state.
The Republican-controlled 2018 Mississippi Legislature passed a bill banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, and it was signed into law by then-Governor Phil Bryant, a Republican. The law was blocked by the U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves presiding in Jackson, an appointee of former U.S. President Barack Obama, a Democrat.
The State of Mississippi, led by Republican Attorney General Lynn Fitch, subsequently appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans, which upheld Reeves’ ruling. Fitch then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the State was granted a hearing before the justices on Dec. 1, 2021.
According to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute in New York City, 2,550 abortions were performed in Mississippi in 2017, the latest year reported by the organization. That number represented .3% of all 2017 abortions in the U.S., the Institute said.
The U.S. abortion rate per 1,000 women of childbearing age (15–44) in 2017 was 13.5, while Mississippi’s rate was 4.3 for the same period of time, the Institute reported.
The court’s decision in the Dobbs case is expected to be announced this summer.