Days before a highly controversial abortion case will be argued before the Supreme Court, a Democratic senator warned that a “revolution” will take place if the court overturns existing precedent on abortion.
Speaking at a virtual press conference with the rest of the New Hampshire congressional delegation Monday, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) said that a decision overturning Roe v. Wade would both turn back the clock on women’s rights and outrage the American people.
“I hope the Supreme Court is listening to the people of the United States because – to go back to Adam Sexton’s question – I think if you want to see a revolution go ahead, outlaw Roe v. Wade and see what the response is of the public, particularly young people,” Shaheen said, referring to WMUR-TV reporter Adam Sexton.
“I think that will not be acceptable to young women or young men,” she added.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which challenges a Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with some exceptions. The law has been blocked by lower courts on the grounds that it unconstitutionally restricts a woman’s right to an abortion. Court precedent establishes that states cannot restrict abortion before a fetus is able to survive outside the womb, which happens at around 22 weeks of pregnancy.
The Mississippi law was designed to directly challenge court precedent on abortion, with the hope that a majority of Republican-appointed justices will overturn Roe v. Wade.
In a statement released before the press conference, Shaheen painted a dire picture of what the country would look like without Roe‘s precedent.
“I’ve lived the consequences of the pre-Roe era – I had friends in college who were forced to seek dangerous back alley abortions because women across the country were denied access to critical family planning services. We cannot allow Republican lawmakers to turn back the clock on women’s reproductive health and rights, which is precisely what the Mississippi case seeks to do. It is time to sound the alarm,” Shaheen said. “Roe v. Wade isn’t just a decision that impacts women, their health and their financial security – it also impacts generations of families.”
Her colleague Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) added that Mississippi’s law is “one of the most extreme abortion bans in the country and it would take us back to almost 50 years ago.”
On the other side of the issue, many pro-life legal scholars and other experts commenting on the upcoming case argued Roe and the subsequent landmark decision Planned Parenthood v. Casey should be overturned on legal, scientific, and moral grounds.
“As legal experts on both sides of the aisle have acknowledged, the Court’s abortion jurisprudence is untethered from the text, history, and tradition of the Constitution. It has imposed on the nation, for several decades now, an extreme, incoherent, anti-democratic regime pursuant to constantly shifting rules, standards, and rationales,” law professors Mary Ann Glendon and O. Carter Snead, from Harvard Law School and Notre Dame Law School respectively, argued.
“What’s more, it elevates a particular vision of human identity and flourishing that is both constitutionally unjustified and morally pernicious in that it systematically prevents the elected branches of government from adopting measures that address the needs of the vulnerable mothers, children, and families involved,” they wrote for National Affairs.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Grazie Pozo Christie, a diagnostic radiologist and policy adviser for the Catholic Association, explained that the science supports the Mississippi’s 15-week statute.
“Perfectly apparent now, to the justices sitting on today’s court as well as the public, are the liveliness and humanity of babies at 15 weeks of gestation — the age at which Mississippi proposes to protect them from elective termination. Nestled within their mothers, these fetuses on average are 6.4 inches long and weigh 4.1 ounces,” Christie wrote. “They have the proportions of a newborn — seemingly all head and rounded belly. The major organs are formed and functioning, and although the child receives nutrients and oxygen through the mother’s umbilical cord, the fetal digestive, urinary and respiratory systems are practicing for life outside the womb. The sex of the child is easy to discern by this point. The baby swallows and even breathes, filling the lungs with amniotic fluid and expelling it. The heart is fully formed, its four chambers working hard, with the delicate valves opening and closing.”
While the case will be heard on Dec. 1, a ruling from the court is not expected until next summer.