The Dobbs case concerns a Mississippi law that bans abortion procedures after the 15th week of pregnancy. State legislators attempted to institute the ban in 2018, but U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves blocked the measure from taking effect. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in 2019 upheld Reeves’s ruling, reasoning that the ban was a plain violation of Supreme Court precedent established in Roe and Casey.
“In an unbroken line dating to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s abortion cases have established (and affirmed, and re-affirmed) a woman’s right to choose an abortion before viability,” the appeals court judges noted. “States may regulate abortion procedures prior to viability so long as they do not impose an undue burden on the woman’s right but they may not ban abortions.”
“The key to this case is that the conservatives can take a *huge* bite out of Roe *without* ‘overruling’ it—just by allowing states to move the line before which Casey applies from viability to 15 weeks,” wrote University of Texas School of Law professor Steve Vladeck. “That may not seem like a huge deal, but (1) once viability isn’t the inflection point, it’s not clear what is; and (2) many women do not find out that they’re pregnant until 6-8 weeks into a pregnancy, so this would dramatically compress the window in which abortions are legal.”