Implicating Washington’s abortion laws, Supreme Court debates Roe v. Wade

Dec 2, 2021, 12:58 PM | Updated: Dec 6, 2021, 11:22 am


Credit David Geitgey Sierralupe via Flickr

The U.S. Supreme Court is poised to undermine a landmark decision upholding a woman’s right to choose abortion.

On Wednesday, the court heard oral arguments regarding the constitutionality of a Mississippi law, passed in 2018, which outlaws abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, allegedly undermining Roe v. Wade’s dictum that abortion be allowed before fetus viability (generally considered to be 24 weeks).

“This is probably one of the most important abortion cases the court has heard in 30 years,” Seattle University School of Law professor Sital Kalantry told KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show.

“The court is considering, in a way, a Mississippi statute that clearly is already unconstitutional under the viability standard, because it only allows a termination of a pregnancy … within 15 weeks,” Kalantry said. “The composition of the court makes people worry that there is going to be a big change.”

After a flurry of appointments under the Trump administration, the U.S. Supreme Court skews conservative by majority, with only Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan on the record avowing to support Roe v. Wade.

‘I am appalled’: State leaders react as Supreme Court weighs challenge to abortion laws

“From [their] oral arguments … yesterday, we heard Justice Kavanaugh asking questions that suggested that he is willing to overturn prior precedent in his questioning,” Kalantry continued.

Kavanaugh invoked previous Supreme Court decision reversals during oral arguments, referencing case law which formerly upheld segregation and anti-sodomy later determined to be unconstitutional. Extrapolating from there to Roe v. Wade, he implied that the court retains the ability to change its judgement on the matter.

“The problem, in my view, is that in those cases, … the court didn’t find that there was a constitutional right for people to not be segregated,” Kalantry added. “But the later cases actually found the constitutional rights. Here, we would be doing the reverse.”

“In Roe v Wade, the court found that there is a constitutional right to choose under privacy,” he said. “If their decision were to overturn it, it would be unrolling a prior constitutional protection.”

The court’s decision is not expected until June or July 2022, and there is a wide spectrum of potential outcomes therein. The court could overturn the Mississippi statute or not, either decision of which implicates Roe v. Wade and establishes precedent for other states as they grapple with the issue.

“We know that five members of the court are avowedly anti-abortion, ” Kalantry said. “They’re very committed to this. If one thinks abortion is wrong in, you know, Idaho, why is it not wrong in Washington? That’s going to be the next question to be asked.”

“Nobody can make a prediction of what the court will do,” Kalantry added. “Justice Roberts is going to try very hard to bring his conservative colleagues along into a compromise that might keep Roe in place.”

Washington preserves state law that further safeguards the right to abortion. Planned Parenthood v. Casey and Initiative 120 both secured a woman’s right to abortion before fetus viability.

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Gee and Ursula Show

Gee and Ursula

pierce county pride...

Frank Sumrall

Pierce Co. Council member to avoid chambers while Pride Flag is present

Pierce County Councilmember Amy Cruver says she will refuse to sit in the county's council chambers while a pride flag flies overhead.

3 days ago


MyNorthwest Video

Video: GEE and Baby GEE

A very special guest joined the Gee and Ursula Show: Gee Jr.! It’s fair to say that like father, like son. Watch Gee Jr. answer questions about his dad, life, and more! Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show every weekday at 9am on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM Listen to KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM or […]

9 days ago

Image: From left, Heather Bosch, Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin of KIRO Newsradio share some laughs du...

Steve Coogan

Peace out! Malfunction on ‘Gee and Ursula’ leads to lots of laughs

Sometimes, equipment malfunctions on shows like "Gee and Ursula" can lead to a few minutes of chaos and a fun, unique moment.

20 days ago

newcastle mayor...

Frank Sumrall

Gee Scott: Newcastle mayor’s comments ‘are awful, what he represents is awful’

Newcastle Mayor Robert Clark fired off a plethora of controversial comments about the local LGBTQ+ community and reparations during a city council meeting.

22 days ago

seattle spd lawsuit...

Ursula Reutin

Ursula: Being gay has no bearing on allegations against former SPD Chief Diaz

In his first interview since he stepped down as the city's top cop, former SPD Chief Adrian Diaz publicly came out as gay.

24 days ago

rahr police...

Frank Sumrall

Interim SPD Chief Rahr on police-city relations: ‘Can we please hit the reset button?’

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell appointed Sue Rahr as the city's interim police chief after removing Adrian Diaz from the role due to accumulating allegations.

29 days ago

Implicating Washington’s abortion laws, Supreme Court debates Roe v. Wade