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WASHINGTON, D.C., May 17, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – The United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge to a Mississippi law banning abortion at 15 weeks of pregnancy, which challenges the “viability” threshold of current legal precedent and therefore sets the stage for a decision that will either uphold, overturn, or modify Roe v. Wade.

An order list released Monday by the Court reveals that it has agree to take up Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which concerns Mississippi’s HB 1510 law banning abortions from being committed past 15 weeks for any reason other than physical medical emergencies or severe fetal abnormalities. 

After its enactment in 2019, U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves quickly issued a temporary restraining order against enforcing the law, then declared it unconstitutional in a ruling filled with pro-abortion talking points rather than legal arguments. Nevertheless, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Reeves, prompting appeal to the nation’s highest court.

The Fifth Circuit claimed that an “unbroken line dating to Roe v. Wade” had firmly entrenched the “right” to pre-viability abortion, but that “unbroken line” is precisely what Mississippi and other pro-life states intend to challenge. Attorneys with the Life Legal Defense Foundation have noted that the Court has also acknowledged a “compelling interest in protecting the unborn child” as pregnancy progresses, particularly on criteria like fetal pain – which can be felt before viability.

The Supreme Court previously delayed its conferencing on the 15-week abortion ban several times. Now that the justices are finally taking up the case, it will be the biggest test yet of former President Donald Trump’s three additions to the court. 

While Trump campaigned on the promise of pro-life judges, during their confirmation hearings Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh both expressed respect for Roe’s status as precedent, leaving uncertain whether stare decisis doctrine will outweigh Roe’s legal defects in their jurisprudence. Justice Amy Coney Barrett has a pro-life record and has criticized stare decisis in the past, but has not specifically said whether she will vote to overturn Roe.

Only Justice Clarence Thomas is explicitly on the record as anti-Roe, and only he and Justice Samuel Alito have established consistently conservative records over a significant period of time. Chief Justice John Roberts has sided with the Court’s leftist wing on numerous high-profile cases over the years, and Gorsuch disappointed conservatives last year by voting to redefine “sex” in federal civil rights law.

A decision to overturn Roe would supercharge pro-life enthusiasm almost overnight by instantly banning abortion in the handful of states with either pre-Roe bans or “trigger laws” still on the books, and by empowering state legislatures to directly end abortion. A decision upholding Roe would likely have the opposite effect on pro-life morale, while also forcing activists to reevaluate their current political and legal strategies. Another possible outcome would be a ruling that redefines Roe’s parameters to allow bans at earlier gestational lines while leaving the general “right” to abortion intact.