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Mississippi’s fight for life

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WORLD Radio - Mississippi’s fight for life

State attorney general prepares to argue historic abortion challenge at the Supreme Court


This June 8, 2021 file photo shows the Supreme Court building in Washington. J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press Photo

NICK EICHER, HOST: Coming next on The World and Everything in It: A reckoning for Roe. Back in May, the Supreme Court granted a petition to review a Mississippi law that limits abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy. The question presented during tomorrow’s argument will be this: Do these bans violate the Constitution?

MARY REICHARD, HOST: The case is captioned Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. It has pro-lifers across the nation wondering if maybe, just maybe, the time has come to overturn Roe v. Wade.

WORLD Senior Correspondent Kim Henderson has a story about the case in the current issue of WORLD magazine. She brings us this report.

KIM HENDERSON, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: It’s a sunny September day, and Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch is standing outside the U.S. Supreme Court Building. She’s wearing a bright blue pantsuit tailored to fit her thin frame, and she’s going full throttle, talking with supporters and taking pictures.

Fitch inherited Mississippi's blocked Gestational Age Act when she took office in 2020.

FITCH: We knew this case was out there for us, but you know, at that point, you think it's just a long shot…

Fitch recalled how she felt when the justices agreed to hear Mississippi’s case.

FITCH: I'm going through the airport, and all the different TVs are blaring in the Atlanta airport -- Dobbs case, Mississippi Attorney General…

In the final stretch before the December 1 hearing, Fitch has become a face of the Dobbs case. Her picture accompanies op-eds in newspapers across the country. She tweets information about pregnancy resources centers. She pushes back against the assumption that abortion creates equal opportunity for women.

And Fitch knows she’s not alone in thinking it’s high time for the High Court to reconsider Roe.

FITCH: You know, with 76 amicus briefs -- which is an incredible amount -- to ever have that supported us. I mean, we have one, a 3D to 4D, that they allowed him to attach as part of their brief. Unheard of, you know, so I think they're ready, I think I think the court is ready.

Fitch is referring to 4D sonogram imagery accepted as part of a brief. Judges will have the opportunity to watch a baby in utero yawn, suck her thumb, and kick.

Shielding her face against the sun, Fitch holds a baby for photos, then smiles alongside a group of whitecoats. Christina Francis chairs the board of the American Association of Pro-life OBGYNS.

FRANCIS: As medical professionals, we are here to say very strongly and very clearly that abortion is not healthcare. It's not good for women. It's certainly not good for their preborn children who are our other patients. It grieves us deeply that abortion has become so embedded not only into our culture, but also into the practice of medicine.

Leah Sargeant is also posing on the steps with Fitch.

AUDIO: There's a lot of children down here. Oh my goodness, he looks pretty fun.

Sargeant is 20 weeks pregnant with her second child. She wrote an opinion piece about the Dobbs case for The New York Times.

SARGEANT: The thing I really appreciated about Attorney General Fitch's approach in the case overall, is it's making the case there's no magical moment of viability. This is kind of a contrived standard.

Sargeant says babies are still dependent on their mothers when they’re full-term. They still need support.

SARGEANT: The more we kind of frame the rights of a child around viability, rather than just their intrinsic dignity, the more we're writing out anyone who's vulnerable. And that's not just children. That's people who are elderly, people who are disabled, mothers themselves who have greater needs during pregnancy and after birth. None of us are viable, totally, on our own.

Questioning viability questions the whole construct of Roe. Maybe that’s why it took the justices 11 months to decide to hear the case.

PERRY: I am encouraged that I am, but no I never actually thought it would ever be here...

Sarah Parshall Perry is a legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation in downtown DC, where a bust of George Washington looks over her shoulder as she works. Perry can’t wait for the Dobbs case to have its day in Court.

PERRY: This is going to be a very critical opportunity to bring the strongest points to the surface. Oral argument is limited. They will have to lead with the strongest punch and see what they can get before the court in the shortest amount of time.

She’s interested to see which of the amicus briefs will be mentioned.

PERRY: To pluck out some of these more original arguments like the one brought by the feminist scholars who have said women's advancement argues for overturning Roe v. Wade. It ought not to be continued good law.

Hugh Hewitt agrees. His recent column in The Washington Post calls the upcoming hearing “Roe’s Waterloo.” He’s not alone in predicting at least six members of the Supreme Court will overturn it.

But Parshall doesn’t see the Court as having a conservative majority. She says it’s more like a 3-3-3 breakdown.

PERRY: We have the three liberals. We have three who have proven themselves to be moderate. And then we have the three true conservative justices, including Alito and Thomas, and they will most likely make up the bulk of the court's argument if Roe versus Wade is overturned.

Attendance in the courtroom will be limited, but the court will provide a phone feed so the public can listen in at supremecourt.gov or c-span.org.

PERRY: I will be doing nothing else but listening to oral arguments that day.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kim Henderson in Washington, D.C.


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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