A majority of Supreme Court justices appeared poised to consider setting new limits on the right to abortion during oral arguments Wednesday over a Mississippi law that takes direct aim at the landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade.
The Mississippi law at issue, which bans virtually all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, conflicts with the nearly five-decade-old rule that says states cannot prohibit abortion prior to when a fetus can live outside the womb, known as fetal viability, which occurs around 24 weeks.
But on Wednesday, the court’s conservatives, who constitute a six-member majority on the bench, posed sharp questions about how firmly rooted Roe’s viability standard is in the Constitution.
“If you think that the issue is one of choice, that women should have the choice to terminate their pregnancy, that supposes that there is a point at which they’ve had the fair choice, the opportunity to choice. 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?” Chief Justice John Roberts asked.