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 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.
Oral arguments are expected to take place in the fall of 2021.
|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.|
|Oral arguments are expected to be held in fall 2021 (date TBA).|
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.
- Press Statement: Mississippi Asks Supreme Court to Overturn Roe, 07.22.21
- Roe at Risk: U.S. Supreme Court to Review Mississippi’s Abortion Ban, a Direct Challenge to Roe v. Wade, 05.17.21
- Supreme Court to Hear Abortion Ban Case Challenging Roe v. Wade, 05.17.21
- Appeals Court Strikes Down Mississippi 15-Week Abortion Ban, 12.14.19