The U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in this case on June 24, 2022. The ruling took away the constitutional right to abortion, abandoned almost 50 years of precedent, and paved the way for states to ban abortion. Watch for more updates including an analysis of the ruling coming soon.
Read about the ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization:
- U.S. Supreme Court Takes Away the Right to Abortion, 06.24.22
- Statement on the Supreme Court’s Decision Overturning Roe v. Wade from Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, 06.24.22
- U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling, 06.24.22.
Case Background: Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization
The Center for Reproductive Rights filed Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in March 2018 on behalf of Jackson Women’s Health Organization—the last remaining abortion clinic in Mississippi—to block the state’s unconstitutional ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The state enacted this ban in direct defiance of Roe and the nearly 50 years of Supreme Court precedent affirming Roe’s core holding—that every pregnant person has the right to decide whether to continue their pregnancy prior to viability. The Center filed the case just hours after then-Governor Phil Bryant signed the ban into law. The original suit also challenged several additional abortion restrictions, which are not part of the case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
A federal district court granted emergency relief the next day, blocking enforcement of the ban—and in November 2018, struck down the 15-week ban because it violated decades of precedent holding that states lack the power to ban abortion before viability, concluding that “[t]he State chose to pass a law it knew was unconstitutional to endorse a decades long campaign, fueled by national interest groups, to ask the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.”
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision in December 2019. Writing for the court, Judge Patrick Higginbotham said: “In an unbroken line dating to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s abortion cases have established (and affirmed and reaffirmed) a woman’s right to choose an abortion before viability.”
The state of Mississippi filed a petition for certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court on June 15, 2020, which asked the Court to review the 15-week ban. On May 17, 2021, the Supreme Court announced it will hear Mississippi’s appeal of the Fifth Circuit decision throwing out the law. In this case, the Court has agreed to consider the question as to whether all pre-viability prohibitions on abortion are unconstitutional.
The case marks the first time the Supreme Court will consider a pre-viability abortion ban since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.
Oral arguments were held December 1, 2021. “Mississippi’s ban on abortion two months before viability is flatly unconstitutional under decades of precedent,” said Julie Rikelman, the Center’s Senior Litigation Director, arguing before the Court. “For a state to take control of a woman’s body and demand that she go through pregnancy and childbirth, with all the physical risks and life-altering consequences that brings, is a fundamental deprivation of her liberty.”
The Court issued its ruling on June 24, 2022, with the majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito. “The Court’s opinion delivers a wrecking ball to the constitutional right to abortion, destroying the protections of Roe v. Wade, and utterly disregarding the one in four women in America who make the decision to end a pregnancy,” said Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, in a statement.
|March 19, 2018||The Governor of Mississippi signed a bill banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Within hours, the Center filed a complaint and a request for a temporary restraining order to block the ban.|
|March 20, 2018||A federal district court granted emergency relief, blocking enforcement of the ban.|
|November 20, 2018||The district court ruled the ban unconstitutional and issued a permanent injunction, striking down the ban.|
|December 14, 2019||A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit unanimously affirmed the lower court’s decision to strike down the 15-week ban.|
|June 15, 2020||Mississippi filed a cert petition with the U.S. Supreme Court.|
|May 17, 2021||U.S. Supreme Court announced it will hear Mississippi’s appeal.|
|September 13, 2021||Center’s reponse brief filed at the U.S. Supreme Court.|
|September 20, 2021||Over 50 amicus briefs are submitted to the Court supporting the Center’s case.|
|December 01, 2021||Oral arguments held.|
|June 24, 2022||U.S Supreme Court issues ruling, taking away the constitutional right to abortion.|
Plaintiff(s): Jackson Women’s Health Organization and Sacheen Carr-Ellis, M.D., M.P.H, a board certified ob/gyn and medical director of Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization
Attorney(s): Hillary Schneller, Jenny Ma, Julie Rikelman, Alice Wang, and Shayna Medley at the U.S. Supreme Court; and Michelle Moriarty and Alexandra Thompson.
Co-Counsel/Cooperating Attorneys: The law firms Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison and O’Melveny and Myers, as well as the Mississippi Center for Justice are co-counsel at the Supreme Court.
- Complaint, 03.19.2018
- Temporary Restraining Order, 03.20.2018
- Amended Complaint, 04.09.2018
- Permanent Injunction, 11.22.2018
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Decision, 12.13.19
- Cert Petition, 06.15.2020
- Response brief filed at the U.S. Supreme Court by the Center for Reproductive Rights, 09.13.21
- Oral arguments transcript and replay, 12.01.21
- U.S. Supreme Court ruling, 06.24.22