SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) -- The U.S. Supreme Court has announced it will hear arguments over a law that serve as a step towards overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade decision establishing a women's right to abortion.
The arguments in early December will center around a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks.
Some say it's an early signal the Supreme Court could eventually overturn Roe v. Wade, triggering reactions from both sides.
"Our constitutional protections as we've enjoyed them are at a real threat, like never before," said Jodi Hicks of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California.
The 1973 Roe v Wade ruling declared a woman can terminate a pregnancy in the first six months, when the fetus is incapable of surviving outside the womb.
Mississippi's law banning abortions after 15 weeks would test whether states that ban "pre-viability abortions" are unconstitutional.
"15 weeks is significant because they're saying we want to protect life before viability, and historically the Supreme Court has not allowed states to do that," said Lila Rose of Live Action, a pro-life non-profit.
If the Mississippi law is upheld, abortion providers argue the ruling could pave the way for other states to enact more restrictive abortion laws or even ban the procedure entirely.
"Other states have now seen a pathway to what Texas did and we're bracing for what that impact is," said Hicks.
Previous court rulings have established states cannot ban abortions before viability, which is between 22 and 24 weeks of pregnancy.
"Concerns for abortion rights activists is that if 15 weeks is okay, then what about 8 weeks, or 6 weeks. it's the nose inside the camel problem," said Collett, a professor of law at the Pro-Life Center at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.
"The premise of the argument before the Supreme Court for the state of Mississippi is that abortion is not a constitutional right that can be found either in the text or the history and tradition of this country," Collett added.
Even if the Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade, California's laws are unlikely to change given the level of support for abortion rights, by the majority of state lawmakers.
The right to an abortion is already firmly established in the California's state constitution. Data shows there are more than 100,000 abortions performed annually in the state.
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