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Fri Jun 11, 2021, 01:26 PM

States and localities must take bold and urgent actions to protect abortion access

Andrea Miller, opinion contributor

When Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy retired in 2018, advocates like me - who have worked to safeguard abortion access for decades - warned that the next big challenge to the bedrock protections for abortion wouldn't be far behind. Three years and three Trump appointees later, the Supreme Court's decision to hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization feels very much like the other shoe dropping.

Based on precedent, this case shouldn't get a Supreme Court hearing - that it will is a testament to the impudence of the Court's new anti-abortion majority. The court has consistently ruled that states can't ban abortion before viability, and this case is about Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban - well before that mark. In the years since Roe v. Wade, abortion access has been decimated across the country - including Mississippi, where Jackson Women's Health is the only clinic left in the state. Even so, this case is, as our current president might say, a BFD.

We know the brilliant litigators arguing against the state of Mississippi will do everything possible to win this case. Congress and the president have a role to play too: we need a nationwide standard of protection for abortion rights and access. Even so, we must also be working in the states to secure every protection and remove every barrier, everywhere we can.

For decades, conservative state legislatures have chipped away at abortion access, picking up momentum in the last 10 years. If the Supreme Court decimates the fundamental holding in Roe, conservative states will likely perceive a green light to ban abortion (indeed, 10 already have "trigger laws" on the books stating that abortion will be banned immediately if Roe is overturned).


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