SCOTUS hears crucial abortion case

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NBC) – Arguments are underway in the U.S. Supreme Court over the most serious challenge to abortion rights in more than 30 years.

Justices are weighing Mississippi’s bid to overturn Roe v. Wade, which could set a new standard for states around the country seeking to enact their own abortion bans.

Hundreds of demonstrators from both sides of this deeply contentious issue gathered outside the Supreme Court Wednesday as justices heard arguments in the most consequential case on abortion rights in a generation.

Jenny Mah with the Center for Reproductive Rights said, “There are 24 states poised to ban abortion if this law is upheld by the Supreme Court and that would really cause chaos.”

President of Students for Life America Kristan Hawkins said, “Historic day for pro-life movement, as we know, this is the first time since I was 7 years old that the Supreme Court has decided to revisit Roe.”

At issue is a Mississippi law that bans nearly all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. That directly contradicts the current standard established nearly 50 years ago in Roe v. Wade that stops states from banning abortion before a fetus can survive outside the womb, around 23 to 24 weeks.

Mississippi’s Governor Tate Reeves argues there’s no justification for the viability standard. He said, “There is no fundamental right in our United States Constitution to an abortion.”

Lawyers for the sole clinic in Mississippi that performs abortions argue the law violates long-held precedent and analysts note many constitutional rights are not explicitly spelled out, like the right to marry.

New York University law professor Melissa Murray said, “The court has held that the Constitution protects those kinds of intimate decisions and that too is the logic underlying the right to an abortion.”

Legal experts say the Supreme Court could choose to uphold Roe v. Wade, overturn it entirely, or find a way to let the Mississippi ban stand by crafting a new standard.

Several states raced to challenge Roe v. Wade once conservatives cemented a six to three majority on the high court.

The justices have yet to rule in a separate case on a Texas law that bans abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy.

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