OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today led a coalition of 24 state attorneys general in urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold its precedents protecting a woman’s right to decide before viability whether to carry a pregnancy to term. In an amicus brief filed with the Court, the coalition argues that Mississippi’s pre-viability abortion ban is unconstitutional and should remain unconstitutional. In 1973, the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that the Constitution does not permit States to prohibit a woman from deciding before viability whether to carry her pregnancy to term. That ruling was affirmed in Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992 and reaffirmed in the following decades. In today’s brief, the coalition argues that Mississippi’s ban is unconstitutional under settled law, and that the Court should continue to uphold this well-established precedent.
“There are few choices more personal than deciding whether to carry a pregnancy to term,” said Attorney General Bonta. “The right to make that decision has been under a coordinated attack by lawmakers in States seeking to deny women the right to decide what is best for their own bodies and futures. Let’s be clear, Mississippi’s abortion ban, like Texas’, South Carolina’s, and others that seek to outlaw pre-viability abortion, is blatantly unconstitutional under settled United States Supreme Court precedents. Those precedents should be upheld by the Court.”
In March 2018, the governor of Mississippi signed into law what was then the strictest abortion ban in the Nation. The law prohibits abortion at 15 weeks, with few exceptions, even in cases of rape or incest. A federal district court judge struck down the law stating that Mississippi “chose to pass a law it knew was unconstitutional...to ask the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade." The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling.
Mississippi’s attempt to undo decades of Supreme Court precedent comes amidst years of attempts by other States to strip women of their right to decide what is best for their bodies and futures. This year alone, 10 states have enacted bans on pre-viability abortions. In total, 16 states have now enacted pre-viability abortion bans.
Attorney General Bonta is committed to defending Californians’ reproductive rights, whether they are in California, or working, travelling, or attending school in other states. In recent weeks, the Attorney General has joined coalitions urging the courts to block unconstitutional bans in Texas and South Carolina. In April, the Attorney General’s office also joined a coalition in filing an amicus brief challenging Tennessee’s abortion ban. In September, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit blocked the ban.
In July, Attorney General Bonta co-led a coalition of state attorneys in submitting a comment letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) supporting their reversal of the Trump Administration’s 2019 Separate Abortion Billing Rule that violated Section 1303 of the Affordable Care Act. In May, the Attorney General co-led a coalition in expressing support for and offering suggested revisions to HHS’s Proposed Rule that will undo the Trump-Pence Administration’s harmful 2019 Title X Rule. The Proposed Rule will rectify many of the harms the 2019 Rule caused women, including allowing Title X clinics to provide a referral for an abortion, if requested by the patient, and removing the current required physical separation of Title X funded services from abortion care.
In filing the brief, Attorney General Bonta is joined by the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, the District of Columbia.
A copy of the brief is available here.