The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Wednesday (December 1) in a case that could decide the fate of Roe v. Wade. Justices heard nearly two hours of oral arguments over a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks and is a direct challenge to the 1973 landmark decision which protected a woman's right to have an abortion.
Chief Justice John Roberts seemed wary of overturning the precedent set in Roe .v Wade because it could result in other significant decisions being reversed.
"There are a lot of cases around the time of Roe, not of that magnitude, but the same type of analysis that that went through exactly the sorts of things we today would say were erroneous," Roberts said. "If we look at it from today's perspective, it's going to be a long list of cases that we're going to say were wrongly decided."
Roberts went on to suggest that the Supreme Court could uphold Mississippi's law and still keep the precedent set by Roe v. Wade. While questioning Center for Reproductive Rights lawyer Julie Rickelman, he asked if 15 weeks was enough time for a woman to make a decision on if they wanted to have an abortion.
"If you think that the issue is one of choice -- that women should have a choice to terminate their pregnancy -- that supposes that there is a point at which they've had the fair choice, opportunity to choice," Roberts said. "And why would 15 weeks be an inappropriate line? Viability, it seems to me, doesn't have anything to do with choice. But if it really is an issue about choice, why is 15 weeks not enough time?"
All three liberal members of the court are expected to rule against Mississippi, while at least four of the conservative justices appear likely to vote in favor of upholding the law. The ultimate decision on whether Roe v. Wade is upheld could hinge on a compromise that finds Mississippi's 15-week ban does not deprive women of access to an abortion.
A final ruling is expected in the spring.