A group of more than 250 doctors and health workers have demanded the US Supreme Court protect abortion rights and uphold the landmark precedent set with Roe v Wade, which effectively enshrined the constitutional right to abortion and struck down anti-abortion laws across the US.
The letter from Committee to Protect Health Care – issued as the nation’s highest court prepared to hear arguments in one of the most important abortion rights cases in decades on 1 December – stressed that abortion access remains “an essential element of medical care”.
“Patients may need an abortion because of pregnancy complications that endanger their health,” the letter reads. “Forcing people with chronic illnesses, following a miscarriage, or after a serious medical condition diagnosis to carry a pregnancy to term against their will could have life-threatening consequences.”
The case before the newly conservative-majority court, Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, could present the biggest threat to abortion rights since the landmark 1973 ruling with Roe.
The state of Mississippi is asking the court to uphold a law that bans abortions after 15 weeks, and poses a direct challenge to Roe as well as Planned Parenthood v Casey, a separate 1997 decision that bolstered abortion rights.
“Restrictive laws against abortions, such as the Texas and Mississippi laws currently being argued in the US Supreme Court, effectively block individuals from a medical procedure that may be necessary for their health, safety, and general well-being,” the letter says.
The clinic at the centre of the Mississippi case, Jackson Women’s Health Organization, is the last operating clinic in the state, having to navigate increasingly restrictive state laws and measures intended to halt all abortions in the state.
There are 12 states with so-called “trigger laws” that would ban abortion should Roe be overturned, and at least 26 states that are likely to ban abortion quickly should that power return to states.
“These laws prevent doctors and health professionals from helping our patients who are seeking our counsel, regardless of the reason they may seek an abortion, be it that they have a pregnancy complication, a health or mental health condition, or that they just do not want to be pregnant now,” the letter says.
Shannon Brewer, clinic director Jackson Women’s Health, the clinic at the centre of the Mississippi case, joined a rally with abortion rights advocates outside the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
“If you make abortion illegal, abortion does not stop,” she said.
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