US Supreme Court judges signal willingness to dramatically curtail abortion rights

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Washington: Conservative US Supreme Court justices on Wednesday signalled a willingness to dramatically curtail abortion rights in America and perhaps overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized the procedure nationwide as they indicated they would uphold a restrictive Republican-backed Mississippi law.

The outcome probably won’t be known until next June. But after nearly two hours of arguments, all six conservative justices, including three appointed by former President Donald Trump, indicated they would uphold a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

At the very least, such a decision would undermine Roe and Casey, which allow states to regulate but not ban abortion up until the point of fetal viability, at roughly 24 weeks.

Abortion would soon become illegal or severely restricted in roughly half the states if Roe and Casey are overturned, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights. Legislatures in many Republican-led states are poised for action depending on the Supreme Court’s ruling.

People of color and lesser means would be disproportionately affected, supporters of abortion rights say.

The court’s three liberal justices said that reversing Roe and Casey would significantly damage the court’s own legitimacy.

Public opinion polls show support for preserving Roe, though some surveys also find backing for greater restrictions on abortion.

Among the conservatives, Chief Justice John Roberts appeared most interested in a less sweeping ruling that would uphold the Mississippi law but not explicitly overrule Roe and Casey.

The hearing sets up a decision by the Supreme Court next year that could overturn nearly 50 years of federally protected abortion rights, which were granted in a landmark ruling known as Roe v Wade. It comes as the US Supreme Court now has a 6-3 conservative majority.

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