By Jonathon Van Maren
The moment every progressive has feared since Ruth Bader Ginsburg died last year has come: The Supreme Court has agreed to hear an abortion case. Abortion organizations have their fundraising engines roaring with warnings that Roe could fall; MSNBC’s Joy Reid speculated that A Handmaid’s Tale is just around the corner; abortion activists are already establishing networks and funds for feticide in states where abortion could presumably soon be illegal. But what is the likelihood of Roe actually being overturned?
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which will take up the question of the constitutionality of a 2018 Mississippi state law that bans abortions after the first 15 weeks of pregnancy. The case will be heard during the 2021-22 Supreme Court term. Up until now, the Supreme Court has consistently avoided addressing the so-called “viability rule” of both Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992).
Despite the new conservative majority, many veteran pro-life leaders suspect that the Court will only hollow out Roe further rather than actually overturn the landmark decision, although others are cautiously optimistic. Chief Justice John Roberts, whose wife once worked with a pro-life organization, was seen at his appointment as a reliable anti-Roe vote; his erratic record since makes his position uncertain. While there are positive indicators, nobody is sure how Gorsuch and Kavanaugh will vote, although the latter may have been radicalized by his treatment at confirmation.