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On September 13, Jackson Women’s Health Organization (JWHO) filed its brief with the Supreme Court in support of its challenge to Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization . But the stakes are much higher than whether JWHO, Mississippi’s sole abortion provider, will be allowed to continue doing abortions up to 16 weeks, its current cut-off. Mississippi has argued that the Court should overrule Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), the Supreme Court cases that discovered and perpetuated a constitutional right to abortion at any stage of pregnancy.
JWHO’s first argument was to suggest that the Court should not even hear the case, claiming that Mississippi had not included the question of overturning Roe and Casey in its petition to the Court. But whether Roe and Casey should be overturned was implicit in the first question presented by Mississippi: “Whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortion are unconstitutional.” Mississippi’s petition to the Court contained other questions, including one more narrowly addressing whether its 15-week-ban could be upheld under Casey . The Supreme Court, in granting Mississippi’s petition, specifically limited its review to the first question, putting the validity of Roe and Casey squarely at issue.
JWHO claims abortion is part of “liberty” and “physical autonomy” — but abortion is different
JWHO then laid out its theory as to why Roe and Casey are “well-grounded in the Constitution and in the Court’s broader jurisprudence.” Quoting Casey , JWHO argues that the right to abortion is grounded in the Fourteenth Amendment’s protection of “liberty,” including “the right to make family decisions and the right to physical autonomy.” Broad, indeed. Such general concepts cover a wide swath of human conduct that is routinely regulated by the state.
In support of the “physical autonomy” interest, JWHO cites several cases dealing with state-mandated intrusions on the body, including medical procedures and forcible administration of drugs. But these cases involved, […]
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