Americans United for Life filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Supreme Court on behalf of 228 federal lawmakers urging the court to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion.
Abortion opponents are optimistic that the 6–3 conservative majority created on the court with the addition last year of Justice Amy Coney Barrett creates an opportunity to return the regulation of abortion to the states, as had been the case before Roe.
The high court is expected to reexamine Roe v. Wade in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, court file 19-1392, which will be heard at some point in the court’s upcoming term, which begins in October. Thomas E. Dobbs is the state health officer of the Mississippi Department of Health.
“It is time for the national embarrassment of Roe v. Wade to be reversed and for justice to prevail for the human right to life,” Catherine Glenn Foster, president and CEO of Americans United for Life, which prepared the brief filed with the court July 29, said in a statement.
“Today, 228 Members of Congress—44 Senators and 184 Representatives—stand in solidarity with preborn Americans and their mothers. The leaders and people of Mississippi showed wisdom and compassion when they acted to protect preborn children at 15 weeks’ gestational age. Mississippi’s common-sense law is obviously constitutional. It is far past time for the U.S. Supreme Court to resolve the bitter culture war that it started, and has perpetuated, through its ill-conceived abortion rulings.”
In the Dobbs case, in 2018, federal courts enjoined Mississippi’s H.B. 1510, the Gestational Age Act, which, according to court documents, “protects the health of mothers, the dignity of unborn children, and the integrity of the medical profession and society by allowing abortions after 15 weeks’ gestational age only in medical emergencies or for severe fetal abnormality.”
Lynn Fitch, the state’s attorney general, a Republican, filed a brief with the court on July 22 arguing that Roe v. Wade is “dangerously corrosive to our constitutional system.” She urged that the 48-year-old precedent be reversed, saying a state may prohibit elective abortions before the unborn baby is viable for life outside the womb.
It may do so because “nothing in constitutional text, structure, history, or tradition supports a right to abortion,” she wrote. “A prohibition on elective abortions is therefore constitutional if it satisfies the rational basis review that applies to all laws.”
Among the 44 senators to sign the brief are Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), John Kennedy (R-La.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), and Mitt Romney (R-Utah).
Among the 184 members of the House to sign are Christopher Smith (R-N.J.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), Andy Harris (R-Md.), and Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).
The lawmakers, who represent 40 states, “have a special interest in the legislative branch’s ability to enact and to see enforced laws that address abortion’s risks and harms on behalf of the People of the States they represent,” the brief states.
“Mississippi’s case provides the Court a chance to release its vise grip on abortion politics, as Congress and the States have shown that they are ready and able to address the issue in ways that reflect Americans’ varying viewpoints and are grounded in the science of fetal development and maternal health.”
Sens. Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith, Mississippi Republicans, said in a statement that they were pleased to be part of the brief.
“Mississippi is leading the charge in standing up for the most vulnerable in our society,” Wicker said. “This case represents the most significant challenge in a generation to Roe v. Wade, which has imposed abortion on demand across this country for nearly 50 years.”
Hyde-Smith stated: “In taking up Mississippi’s pro-life law, the Supreme Court has a chance to reconsider the current misguided abortion jurisprudence. As a Senator, as a woman, and as a mother, I think this case offers us a chance to overturn Roe and return the abortion issue to the political process and away from activist judges.”
The friend-of-the-court brief is part of a deluge of briefs filed by various individuals and groups in the case in recent days. Many more such briefs are expected.