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Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization - (24 Jun 2022)

Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion

Civil

The State of Mississippi asks present Court to uphold the constitutionality of a law that generally prohibits an abortion after the 15th week of pregnancy—several weeks before the point at which a fetus is now regarded as “viable” outside the womb. In defending this law, the State’s primary argument is that present Court should reconsider and overrule Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey and once again allow each State to regulate abortion as its citizens wish. The critical question is whether the Constitution, properly understood, confers a right to obtain an abortion.

The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives. The Constitution makes no express reference to a right to obtain an abortion, but several constitutional provisions have been offered as potential homes for an implicit constitutional right.

Under the Court’s precedents, rational-basis review is the appropriate standard to apply when state abortion regulations undergo constitutional challenge. Given that procuring an abortion is not a fundamental constitutional right, it follows that the States may regulate abortion for legitimate reasons, and when such regulations are challenged under the Constitution, courts cannot “substitute their social and economic beliefs for the judgment of legislative bodies.” That applies even when the laws at issue concern matters of great social significance and moral substance. A law regulating abortion, like other health and welfare laws, is entitled to a “strong presumption of validity.” It must be sustained if there is a rational basis on which the legislature could have thought that it would serve legitimate state interests.

Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act is supported by the Mississippi Legislature’s specific findings, which include the State’s asserted interest in “protecting the life of the unborn.” These legitimate interests provide a rational basis for the Gestational Age Act, and it follows that Respondents’ constitutional challenge must fail.

Abortion presents a profound moral question. The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey arrogated that authority. The Court overrules those decisions and returns that authority to the people and their elected representatives.

Tags : REGULATION   ABORTION   RIGHT  

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