12.1.21 (PRESS RELEASE) – Today, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization—a case that will decide the fate of abortion rights in the U.S. In the case, the state of Mississippi is asking the Court to overturn Roe v. Wade and allow states to ban abortion entirely. Abortion providers traveled from as far as Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi to rally outside the court alongside thousands of advocates with signs that read “Abortion is Essential”.
In the courtroom today, Center for Reproductive Rights’ Senior Litigation Director Julie Rikelman argued to the Justices that there is no way they can uphold Mississippi’s ban without overturning Roe and nearly 50 years of precedent protecting the right to abortion. She pointed out that all of Mississippi’s arguments have been heard and rejected by the Court before, and that nothing has changed that would justify a different outcome.
Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“Today, both inside and outside the Supreme Court, it was abundantly clear that taking away the constitutional right to abortion would be a travesty of justice. One in four women in the United States has an abortion during her lifetime. The Supreme Court has long recognized that because of the impact on her life, health and future, this decision is a protected liberty right under the Constitution. Nothing in law or fact warrants taking this right away.”
Said Julie Rikelman, Senior Director of US Litigation at the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“For nearly 50 years, the Supreme Court has recognized and protected the right to abortion. Today, we urged the justices to stand by that precedent. Two generations since Roe have come to rely on the availability of legal abortion to shape their lives and futures. The advancements women have made towards gender equality will be sent hurtling backwards if they are unable to control their own bodies, lives and futures.”
Said Shannon Brewer, Clinic Director of Jackson Women’s Health Organization:
“The energy outside the Court today was overwhelming. People traveled from all corners of the country to come support us. It gave me some sense of hope that we will and must win. The ability to control your own body and future should not depend on where you live. We have fought for so long and so hard to keep our clinic doors open and the fight is not over.”
Said Vangela M. Wade, president and CEO of the Mississippi Center for Justice, which is co-counsel on Dobbs v. Jackson:
“Abortion is an absolutely crucial health option. Women need the ability to consult with their doctors and make decisions that are best for their own bodies and life circumstances. The government should never have the power to decide whether and when a woman has a child. Unfortunately, if the Supreme Court upends the constitutional right to choose, millions of women, particularly those in the south, will lose basic control over their bodies and their futures.”
For photos from the rally outside the Court, click here (Photo credit: Center for Reproductive Rights).
The case challenges a Mississippi law (H.B. 1510) that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The ban is a direct violation of Roe v. Wade which determined that every person has the right to end a pregnancy before viability—typically around 23-24 weeks. The Guttmacher Institute recently released new data showing how far people in each state will need to drive to find abortion services if Roe is reversed. In Mississippi, the one-way driving distance to access abortion care would increase 428 miles or 638%.
You can find more background and history on this case here.
Jackson Women’s Health Organization is represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, along with law firms Paul Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, O’Melveny and Myers, and the Mississippi Center for Justice as co-counsel.
MEDIA CONTACT: [email protected]