About Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization
On Dec. 1, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a challenge to a 2018 Mississippi law that protects almost all babies after the 15th week of pregnancy from abortion except when there are risks to the life of the mother or fatal fetal anomalies.
The case has the potential to reverse Roe v. Wade fully or in part. This is the first time the high court has considered restrictions to abortion before fetal viability. A decision is expected during the summer term of 2022.
It was clear from the oral arguments that the Supreme Court is ready to make a change to abortion law in America, either through a complete overturning of Roe v. Wade or a partial change that would allow states like Louisiana to protect more babies from abortion. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, legal decisions on abortion would return to the people and their state legislators. If this happens, Louisiana is legislatively and constitutionally prepared to protect all unborn babies from abortion within the state.
And if this happens, Louisiana is ready to support women, both before and after birth.
The Question of Fetal Viability
Fetal viability, or when the baby can live outside the womb, is an arbitrary benchmark for regulating abortion because the Supreme Court has previously recognized that states have a legitimate interest in protecting the child in utero during the first trimester. Additionally, advances in medicine and science continue to help younger babies survive following a preterm birth.
How Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Could Impact Louisiana
In 2018, Louisiana Right to Life helped pass a law similar to Mississippi’s law protecting babies at 15 weeks. The enforcement of the Louisiana law is contingent on the Supreme Court’s decision. The Supreme Court could rule narrowly and uphold the Mississippi law without overturning Roe v. Wade, and in that case, unborn babies at 15 weeks and older would be protected from abortion.
If the Supreme Court decided to overturn Roe v. Wade, Louisiana is ready. In 2006, the Louisiana Legislature passed the Human Life Protection Act, which ensures that the state of Louisiana has the authority to prohibit abortion following the demise of Roe. Additionally, the Louisiana Love Life Amendment passed in 2020 protects our body of comprehensive pro-life laws disallowing state judges from “finding” a right to abortion or the funding of abortion in the Louisiana Constitution.
Public Reception of Late Abortions
Under Roe v. Wade, there is no federal law or court decision preventing abortions late in gestation. A 2021 poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research showed that 65 percent of Americans believe abortion should be illegal in most or all circumstances in the second trimester, and 80 percent believe it should be illegal in the third trimester.
Gallop polls have trended the same for years with more than 7 in 10 Americans supporting banning abortion after week 12 of pregnancy.
Louisiana Without Roe
The state of Louisiana is ready for an abortion-free future. State and private social service agencies and pregnancy resource centers have worked collaboratively for decades helping women in unplanned or crisis pregnancies.