Will Dobbs be the beginning of the end of Roe? About this time next year we could have the answer to that very important question. The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in the next term, which begins the first Monday in October. This is a huge victory in itself; we pray the real victory is in the coming ruling. We don’t expect that until next spring at the earliest and more likely, June of 2022 – in the heat of the midterm elections.
The announcement has already set off a firestorm of predictions and assumptions, but careful analysis indicates only that the decision to hear the case is a huge development – and the ruling will likely match it in significance. That’s not to say it will overturn Roe v Wade. It likely won’t, but if the Supreme Court upholds Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15-weeks gestation, the pre-viability rule established in Roe and Casey is no more.
The Court has held that states cannot restrict abortion before the age of viability if it constitutes an undue burden on the woman’s “right” to an abortion. Viability has been determined to be about 24 weeks, although babies have survived, even thrived after being born at 21 and 22 weeks, some perhaps even at 20 weeks.
If the Court upholds the 15-week ban, why not 6-weeks? Several states have passed abortion bans based on various time frames, but none are in effect. They are all held up in court, already deemed unconstitutional by lower courts. The outcome of Dobbs could settle every one of them – depending on the ruling. A federal court struck down Arizona’s 20-week abortion ban that passed in 2012, yet, a number of states have 20-week bans in effect.
Mississippi legislators passed the 15-week abortion ban in 2018, recognizing a preborn baby at that age of gestation feels pain. According to the researchers at Charlotte Lozier Institute at 15 weeks gestation, babies:
- Have fully developed hearts – pumping 26 quarts of blood a day
- Have arms, legs, fingers and toes with nails and developing fingerprints
- Have fully formed noses, lips, eyelids and eyebrows
- Can taste, yawn, hiccup, swallow, and suck their thumbs
- Feel pain. Pain receptors have been developing for more than seven weeks, and almost the entire body responds to light touch. Painful procedures trigger a hormonal stress response
We can now expect the recent efforts to pack the Supreme Court to ramp up. The Biden Administration’s committee tasked with researching expanding the Court met this week – just two days after the Dobbs announcement. And what about precedent? What do the different justices have to say about precedent? What are pro-abortion activists doing in response? We discuss all this on this week’s policy podcast here.
Quick update on HB 2035
The parental rights bill made it through the AZ Senate and awaits a final House vote. This replaces SB 1456, which Governor Ducey vetoed a few weeks ago because he was concerned it would not allow sexual assault prevention instruction in the lower grades. HB 2035 clarifies that such instruction is permissible. It also ensures parents get access to sex education curricula and a chance to provide input, as well as have the final say in whether their children will attend sex ed classes. The bill also ensures sex education may not be provided before fifth grade in Arizona’s district and charter schools.
- John Stonestreet asks, Should we Dismantle the Family?
- Listen here to a discussion about the battle of ideas in America with Al Mohler and Ryan T. Anderson.
- First Things provides more analysis on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to hear Dobbs.
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