Future of abortion rights hangs in the balance as US Supreme Court hears Mississippi case
As the United States Supreme Court hears arguments on a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks, pro-life and pro-choice advocates in New Jersey are waiting to see how a decision could impact federal abortion laws.
State lawmakers were sounding off on Wednesday’s proceedings on social media. Many were saying a woman's right to an abortion is a constitutional right and the case is being used as a weapon to destroy Roe v. Wade.
It comes as Gov. Phil Murphy and abortion rights advocates urge the state Legislature to pass a bill enshrining Roe vs. Wade. Pro-life groups are calling that move "extreme.”
“Abortion is an act of violence that takes the life of an innocent child,” says Marie Tasy, executive director of New Jersey Right to Life. “It’s our hope that the Court will right the grave wrong they were involved in 49 years ago.”
During the Supreme Court hearing, Justice Clarence Thomas asked what constitutional right protects the right to abortion.
“Is it privacy? Is it autonomy? What would it be?” Thomas asked.
“It’s liberty, Your Honor,” was the reply.
Attorneys for both sides and the justices debated the case for nearly two hours. A decision has the potential to affect the majority of women in America and could shape or shatter the public confidence in the nation’s highest court.
“If people actually believe it's all political, how will we survive? How will the Court survive?” asked Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
At the same time the Court was hearing arguments, Gov. Murphy held a virtual rally with abortion rights advocates including Planned Parenthood.
“Your body belongs to you. The decision on whether and when to start a family is yours,” Murphy said.
The governor is advocating an immediate vote by the state Legislature on the Reproductive Freedom Act.
“But it is not enough to say we believe it. We must codify that belief into law,” Murphy said.
As a state law, it would survive even if Roe v. Wade is significantly altered or struck down. But Democratic legislative leaders like outgoing Senate President Steve Sweeney have been reluctant to allow the bill to have a vote.
“I can't believe that 50 years later we are still having this discussion, argument, battle,” said state Assemblywoman Mila Jasey.
There is no vote scheduled for the Reproductive Freedom Act between now or when the new session of the Legislature starts on Jan. 11.