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Constitutional Rights and the Public’s Health

Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization


Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (U.S. Supreme Court, June 24, 2022): The Supreme Court upheld Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, overruling Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Mississippi enacted the law in 2018 to ban abortions after 15 weeks’ gestation except in cases of medical emergency or “severe fetal abnormality.” Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the only operating abortion provider in the state of Mississippi, challenged the law. The federal district court and the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals held the law unconstitutional because Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey prevent abortion bans before viability, measured at roughly 24 weeks’ gestation. In an Opinion authored by Justice Samuel Alito, the Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, concluded that the Constitution does not protect a right to abortion, and returned the issue of abortion to state legislatures. The Majority reasoned that abortion is not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution nor rooted in the nation’s history and traditions sufficient to establish it as a fundamental constitutional right. The Court further explained that five factors weighed in favor of overruling Roe and Casey: the nature of the Court’s error, the quality of the reasoning, the workability of the Court’s rule, the effect of the rule on other areas of the law, and the absence of reliance interests. The Court announced that abortion restrictions will now be subject only to rational basis review. Read the full Opinion here.

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