Debate reignited as SCOTUS plans to hear Mississippi case on 15-week abortion ban

Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 8:01 AM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Debates are taking place across the country following Monday’s announcement that the Supreme Court will take up the state’s 15-week abortion ban.

From the White House to South Mississippi, both pro-choice advocates and pro-life supporters are weighing in with an opinion on the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case.

The United States Supreme Court has taken up multiple abortion-related cases since Roe v. Wade in 1973. But Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban is the first ban they’ve agreed to consider.

It’s a decision that is getting a lot of support from conservative leaders in Mississippi, including Gov. Tate Reeves.

“Abortion rights has been an issue that has divided out country for fifty years,” said Reeves in an exclusive interview on Monday.

U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith agrees.

“It will be very interesting,” she told the Gray Media correspondent in Washington, D.C. “It is the first abortion issue since Amy Coney-Barrett has been confirmed. It’s basically determining if it is constitutional for abortion in the first 15 weeks and to let the states decide.”

In South Mississippi, opinions were mixed, with many in support of a 15-week abortion ban while others say it is a violation of a woman’s right to choose.

“The simple fact is it is the woman’s decision, you know, it is not always the easiest decision to do an abortion. I just think it needs to be left alone,” said pro-choice advocate Katelyn McCulloch.

Over at the Catholic Diosesce of Biloxi, the Pro-Life Ministries Director hopes the Supreme Court reanalyzes the matter of abortion with today’s technology.

“I am hopeful the Supreme Court will re-look at all of these issues and reevaluate and evaluate it with all the new science and technology that we have that can really back up the idea that life begins at conception,” said Michele Pisciotta, director of Pro-Life Ministries.

The Mississippi Center for Justice has been fighting the legislation that would limit abortion access for years so this latest setback is very concerning for advocates there.

“We are obviously concerned that the Supreme Court has decided to revisit this issue. The (current) Supreme Court is different from the 1973 court, and it is their prerogative to overturn cases,” said Beth Oriensky, director of the Mississippi Center for Justice. “We strongly believe it is important for women to have the right to make their own choices, particularly low income women who can’t travel to other places who are burdened disproportionately if it was going to be upheld.”

No matter which side community members fell on, the fact that it is a Mississippi law set to be discussed in front of the Supreme Court is furthering the conversation in the Magnolia State.

“It brings it home where, you know, cases in the Supreme Court are obviously national cases but to have it kind of set in Mississippi is a very interesting thing,” said pro-choice advocate Lizzy Pribyl. “It makes it, I think, for people in the state of Mississippi to think about where they stand on these issues.”

The ruling isn’t expected until sometime this fall and, one way or another, the decision will significantly shape abortion legislation for the years ahead.

The case the U.S. Supreme Court says it will hear evolved out of a U.S. District court ruling that found Mississippi’s 2018 law banning abortions after 15 weeks was unconstitutional.

Mississippi’s only abortion clinic, which is located in Jackson, originally filing the lawsuit after former governor Phil Bryant signed the bill into law, with lawmakers wanting to lead the nation in protecting unborn children.

When appealed in 2019, judges re-affirmed the lower court’s decision, saying the landmark Roe v. Wade case of 1973 established a woman’s right to choose an abortion before viability, and that states may regulate abortion procedures but cannot outright ban abortions.

That same year, Mississippi legislators - along with the governor - signed a more restrictive law banning most abortions at about six weeks.

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