Posing a strong challenge Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court on Wednesday heard oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jacskon Women’s Health Organization, which is related to a Mississippi law that seeks to ban almost all abortions after the 15 week of pregnancy.
Based on their comments during the hearing, the conservative wing of Justices appear poised to lean toward revising precedents set by Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which would ultimately set historic limits on abortions based on viability.
Some of the most prominent arguments stemmed from Chief Justice John Roberts as well as Justices Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh, who are considered key votes in potentially overturning the precedence set by the 1973 ruling legalizing abortion.
Another significant voice in the never-ending battle for pro-life legislation was Justice Clarence Thomas, who did not hesitate to ask questions on a matter near and dear to his heart, especially since he was a part of the minority opinion with then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. According to SCOTUSblog, Justice Thomas at the time argued “Roe was wrongly decided, and that it can and should be overruled.”
During Wednesday’s hearing, Justice Thomas repeatedly asked questions about where specifically in the U.S. Constitution is it stated that women have the Constitutionally protected right to an abortion. Considering Justice Thomas’ position on abortion, he asked this to make a strong and valid point that the U.S. Constitution does not contain exact language to protect the right to terminate a baby’s life inside the womb.
“Would you specifically tell me, specifically state what the right is, is it specifically abortion? Is it liberty? Is it autonomy? Is it privacy?” Thomas asked.
A lawyer arguing in favor of abortion responded that the 14th Amendment does allow a woman to hold the choice to decide whether or not to continue with a pregnancy, which the lawyer also insinuated with insufficient clarity that it does, in that regard, promote “interest in autonomy, bodily integrity, liberty, and equality.”
However Justice Thomas is not one to sit back without a clear-cut answer, and continued to press on with similar questions directed to general counsel.
He continued, “I understand we’re talking about abortion here. But what is confusing is that if we were talking about the Second Amendment, I know exactly what we’re talking about. If we’re talking about the Fourth Amendment. I know what we’re talking about. Because it’s written, it’s there,” Thomas said. “What specifically is the right here that we’re talking about?”
The counsel responded with multiple answers that did not appear to address Justice Thomas’ very obvious “yes or no” question, which seemed to frustrate him.
Chief Justice Roberts poised a question that alludes there may be ground to dig deeper when it comes to a woman’s choice and the extensive viability period allowed for a woman to make the choice to abort.
“Viability, it seems to me, doesn’t have anything to do with choice. But if it really is an issue about choice, why is 15 weeks not enough time?” Chief Justice Roberts critically asked.
The resolutions that would arise from overturning key legislation that has protected abortion up until 24 weeks of pregnancy at the federal level would include making abortion illegal in at least 20 of 50 states, while placing abortion limits in virtually all states.
This would serve as a major win for pro-life groups, including conservatives and Republicans that have made it a big part of their agenda to give back power to the states, while reinforcing the humanity and protection of life inside the womb.