The Miraculous Story of the Overturn of Roe
Let’s take time to honor those warriors who helped get a victory in this fight and pause to thank God again for this amazing win before moving on too quickly.
From The Federalist. The Supreme Court released its opinion last week in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning Roe v. Wade and ending nearly 50 years of federal governance over abortion policy. It was a historic moment, with Roe now joining Plessy v. Ferguson in the list of momentous u-turns in Supreme Court case law….
With little fanfare or attention, Mississippi, the little state that could, showed the rest of the nation what can be done when just a few people believe passionately in their cause and are willing to labor to plant seeds years before harvesting….
Seizing the Opportunity
After decades of frustrating battles against an intractable Supreme Court, many legislatures had grown weary of spending time on pro-life legislation, but with the election of President Trump, pro-life advocates in Mississippi saw an opportunity to get a statement win. Jameson Taylor, then acting president of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, decided to seize the moment and found early support with Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn, then-state House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Andy Gipson, and bill sponsor Rep. Becky Currie.
Taylor observed that Mississippi had passed a 20-week abortion ban in 2014 and a ban on dismemberment abortions in 2016. Neither had been challenged in court. Diane Deriz, the owner of Mississippi’s only abortion clinic (Jackson Women’s Health Organization) had called the 20-week ban “a totally irrelevant piece of legislation that I’m sure was aimed at the clinic. The clinic goes to 16 weeks, so what difference does that bill make?”
So, the question arose: “What would be a good next step?”
Identifying a Possible Opening
As the 2018 legislative session rolled around, the Supreme Court’s balance had not changed, with President Trump simply replacing Justice Antonin Scalia with Justice Neil Gorsuch. It was still a “Kennedy court,” defined by his determinant vote in the middle. Could Mississippi push that court to reconsider the vague “viability” rule that had been created in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992)? Would it survive the new “undue burden” standard the court had established to limit states’ regulation of abortion?…
Ultimately, Taylor decided it was time for Mississippi to “make a statement to set a new bar for what pro-life policy could look like in red states….”
As a first step, he reached out to Denise Burke and Kellie Fiedorek, expert attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). Burke suggested model language that could build upon Mississippi’s 20-week abortion ban, which was still in place….
Poking the Court with a 15-Week Limit
As the bill took shape in the House, Currie emerged as the sponsor for what would become the 15-week ban bill, formally called “The Gestational Age Act” (H.B. 1510 – 2018). Currie, a licensed nurse, presented a strong defense of the bill to colleagues, recalling her experience holding a 15-week-gestation infant….
With support from Gunn, the House passed the bill (79-31), but it faced outside opposition in the Senate over criminal penalties against doctors. With an amendment to pivot to limited civil penalties, it was passed with support from Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and sent to Gov. Phil Bryant. He signed it on March 19, 2018, putting into effect what was roundly called “the most restrictive abortion law in the nation.”
Within hours, the pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit on behalf of Jackson Women’s Health Organization, and the next day U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves issued a temporary restraining order against enforcing the law….
Reeves handed the state a stinging defeat, ruling in November that it “unequivocally” violated not only Supreme Court precedent but also the 14th Amendment….
Mississippi appealed to the Fifth Circuit, but the court ruled against it in December 2019. … It was yet another setback.
Supreme Court’s Balance Swings
Along the way, though, a fortuitous turn of events had occurred. The Supreme Court balance had suddenly changed in late 2018 with President Trump’s replacement of Kennedy with Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Then, just prior to leaving office in 2020, the balance swung further as Amy Coney Barrett was quickly confirmed to fill the seat that had been held by the deceased Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In a blink, the law that had been designed to survive a “Kennedy court” was now headed into a completely different court, one that leaned conservative by a six-to-three margin….
On Dec. 1, 2021, the Supreme Court heard two hours of arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case to determine the fate of almost 50 years of abortion case law….
The drama finally ended when the court released its verdict last week, and by a 6-3 decision both Roe and Casey were overturned. … The strategy envisioned five years earlier by pro-life advocates in Mississippi had played out better than ever imagined — with some divine twists along the way.
When the news broke on that Friday morning, Taylor simply commented, “Amazing. Praise God!…”
In our First Friday prayer call, IFA CEO and President Dave Kubal interviewed Becky Currie and discussed the same story mentioned here. You can watch the prayer call on our watch page, or just below:
Are you encouraged by this story? If so, share this article with your friends and family to encourage them!
(Excerpt from The Federalist. Photo Credit: Getty Images)
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