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Supreme Court to hear blockbuster Mississippi abortion case December 1

Red states look to restrict abortion
Red states look to restrict abortion 06:19

Washington — The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a high-stakes dispute over a Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks on December 1, the court announced Monday.

The high court in May agreed to hear the case over Mississippi's ban. The state officials pushing for the law to stand are asking the justices to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that established a woman's right to an abortion.

The request from the state for the Supreme Court to reverse its abortion precedents came after the court agreed to take up the case and its conservative majority widened to 6-3 with the addition of Justice Amy Coney Barrett last year. 

The question before the court is whether "all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortion are unconstitutional." Under the court's precedents, states cannot ban abortions before viability, which is between 22 and 24 weeks of pregnancy.

If the law is allowed to remain in place, it could pave the way for other states to enact more stringent restrictions on abortion. Providers challenging Mississippi's law warned the court that a ruling against them would invite states to ban the procedure entirely.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the Mississippi case and others set to be argued during its October, November and December sittings in person, marking the return of the justices to the courtroom after it closed its doors in March 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Attendance, however, will be limited and live audio of the proceedings provided to those listening remotely.

While the Mississippi case was always bound to garner heightened attention because of the implications of a ruling involving abortion, it's taken on added significance after the Supreme Court declined to block a Texas law banning the procedure after roughly six weeks of pregnancy.

The court 5-4 decision to allow that law to remain in effect turned on its novel enforcement mechanism, and the conservative majority said it was not based on "any conclusion" about the Texas ban's constitutionality.

The Mississippi legal battle is one of several blockbuster cases the justices will hear in its new term, which begins October 4. The high court will hear a case in October involving the death sentences for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and a Second Amendment dispute in November over New York's law limiting who can carry handguns outside the home.

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