By Danielle Valente published
US abortion laws are being severely challenged in 2021, which ultimately begs the question, “What will happen to Roe v. Wade?”
Controversial stances in both Texas and Mississippi are dividing the nation and raising red flags amongst women’s rights activists. Here’s everything you need to know—and what the future possibly holds.
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US Abortion law: What is Roe. v Wade?
In 1973, the US Supreme Court ruled that states are forbidden from banning abortions before fetal viability, which is when fetuses can survive outside of the womb. This typically occurs around 23 or 24 weeks into a pregnancy, according to medical experts.
Roe v. Wade allows women to have control of their reproductive choices with little government interference, and it has been controversial since its inception 48 years ago.
What is the new Texas abortion law?
As of September 1, 2021, a highly disputed Texas abortion law, SB8, has gone into effect barring abortions at six weeks, which is considered the tightest restriction since Roe v. Wade went into effect, according to CNN.
Additionally, private citizens will be permitted to bring civil suits against anyone who assists a pregnant person seeking an abortion and attempting to violate the ban. This all has occurred after the Supreme Court failed to block SB8. Those in favor of the law believe it’s protecting a child’s right to life, but those who are opposed believe it is threatening women’s rights.
SCOTUS’s failure to block #SB8 has delivered catastrophe to women in Texas. This radical law is an all out effort to erase the rights and protections of Roe v Wade.September 1, 2021
CNN further reports that the law prohibits abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected, and at times this is before a woman knows she is pregnant. This law does not exempt rape or incest but does take “medical emergencies” into account.
The Mississippi abortion law 2021: What is it?
The Mississippi abortion law, formally known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health, aims to make the termination of a pregnancy illegal after 15 weeks. It will fight to ensure that the procedure can only be conducted after 15 weeks in cases of medical emergencies or severe fetal abnormalities.
According to NBC News, the Mississippi law does not include any exceptions for sexual assault victims. On May 17, 2021, the US learned that the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health case later in the year.
The Mississippi law argues that important physiological developments have been made around the 15-week mark and that undergoing an abortion after 15 weeks becomes riskier for women. The law also claims that fetuses have developed the capacity to feel pain at this time marker, per Forbes.
What happened at the December 2021 Supreme Court hearing?
On December 1, 2021, the Supreme Court seemed poised to uphold the Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, according to The New York Times. Protests from both sides of the argument filled the streets of Washington, D.C.
What does this all mean for Roe v. Wade?
Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health and SB8 could potentially make abortion's legality vary state by state rather than federally. Jen Psaki, press secretary to President Joe Biden, revealed that POTUS is “committed to codifying Roe,” earlier this year, though there is still much to be determined.
After the December 1 hearing on the Mississippi law, the six-member conservative majority seemed tossed about whether or not the ban should stop at 15 weeks or if they should overrule Roe v. Wade, which would allow states to ban abortions as they see fit, per The Times.
For updates on all things related to these US abortion laws, keep your eye on the SCOTUS blog.
Danielle is a writer for My Imperfect Life, where she particularly enjoys covering lifestyle and entertainment news. She was previously the editor of Time Out New York Kids and a news editor at Elite Daily. When she's not working, you can find her reading a good book and enjoying a cup of coffee. Follow her @dvwrites.