Former US vice president Mike Pence has called on the Supreme Court to “make history” by overturning the historic decision that legalised abortion nationally.
The Court will hear oral arguments on Wednesday in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organisation, a potentially precedent-upending case that directly challenges a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion before a foetus can survive outside the womb.
“We are asking the court in no uncertain terms to make history,” Mr Pence, who has been laying the groundwork for a presidential run in 2024, said during a speech in Washington.
“We are asking the Supreme Court of the United States to overturn Roe v Wade and restore the sanctity of life at the center of American law,” he added, referring to the 1973 decision.
The justices will weigh whether to uphold a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks, with limited exceptions — well before the current established point of “viability”, at around 24 weeks.
The court is also weighing challenges to a Texas law that bans abortions after six weeks — before many women even know they are pregnant.
The court could decide to uphold current precedent, could let the law stand, effectively doing away with the current viability standard, or could overturn Roe entirely.
“This is the first time that they have clearly had a majority of pro-life-leaning justices,” said Columbia Law School’s Carol Sanger, an expert in reproductive rights. ”So they have the votes if they choose to use them.”
The court’s decision, which is expected by late June, could dramatically shift the contours of next year’s midterm elections, providing a new animating force for Democrats, who largely support abortion rights and have struggled to rally around a unifying issue this year.