US abortion law challenges: here’s what’s happening in Texas and Mississippi

US abortion laws are facing their greatest challenges to date from Texas and Mississippi. Here’s what you need to know about the future of women’s rights in America

The Supreme Court of the United States, photographed on Monday, May 17, 2021. The Supreme Court announced that it will hear the Mississippi US abortion law 2021 in its next session
(Image credit: Kent Nishimura/Getty)

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.

 US Abortion law: What is Roe. v Wade?

In 1973, the US Supreme Court’s landmark decision 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 law in Texas about abortion?

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.

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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.

Crowds of women and men holding protest signs march through the streets during the Women's March on Washington, D.C.. Prominent sign says, "Our Bodies, Our Minds, Our Power."

(Image credit: Getty)

The Mississippi abortion law 2021: What is it? 

Mississippi is taking a similar stance to Texas. The Mississippi abortion law, which is 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 medical 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 during its October term. 

According to The New York Times, lower courts find this law to be unconstitutional under the statutes of Roe v. Wade, as it forbids states from banning abortions before fetal viability (23–24 weeks). 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 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.  

For updates on all things related to these US abortion laws, keep your eye on the SCOTUS blog.

Danielle Valente
Danielle Valente

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.