The Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to a Mississippi law banning most abortions after 15 weeks (with narrow exceptions for medical emergencies or “severe fetal abnormality,” but not for instances of rape or incest). The case could lead the Supreme Court to once again question its landmark decision in Roe v. Wade (and later cases like Planned Parenthood v. Casey) which held that there was a constitutional right to seek an abortion under the 14th Amendment and that the government could not place an undue burden on the right prior to the “viability” of the fetus, or the ability of an unborn child to survive outside the womb. This week’s episode focuses on two big questions: Does the Constitution indeed protect the right to choose abortion—and if so, when? And in the new abortion challenge, Dobbs v. Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization, will the court uphold Roe v. Wade or narrow the decision in some way, revising the viability standard? Our guests unpack these questions and more, explaining the arguments on all sides as well as relevant legal terms—including “substantive due process,” “natural law,” and “stare decisis.” Host Jeffrey Rosen was joined by Leah Litman, assistant professor at Michigan Law and co-host of the podcast Strict Scrutiny, and Teresa Stanton Collett, professor and director of the Prolife Center at University of St. Thomas School of Law.
Leah Litman assistant professor of law at Michigan Law. She is also one of the co-hosts and creators of Strict Scrutiny, a podcast about the U.S. Supreme Court. She recently wrote an opinion piece on this case for The Washington Post entitled, “The Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority is about to show us its true colors.”
Teresa Stanton Collett is professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law, where she serves as director of the school’s Prolife Center. She has represented governors and congresspeople in their defense of abortion regulations, and is the co-editor of a collection of essays exploring “catholic” perspectives on American law, among other publications.
- Rochin v. California (1952)
- Roe v. Wade (1973)
- Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992)
- Obergefell v. Hodges (2015)
- Planned Parenthood Minn, N.D., S.D. v. Rounds (8th Cir. 2012)
- Live at the National Constitution Center podcast
This episode was produced by Jackie McDermott and engineered by David Stotz. Research was provided by Alexandra "Mac" Taylor, Anna Salvatore, and Lana Ulrich.
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