Dobbs vs Jackson

By Debbie Wuthnow

Dobbs vs Jackson

How the Supreme Court Abortion Case Could Impact Future Elections

On December 1st, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for the case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which could result in a reversal of the infamous decision which legalized abortion across the country nearly fifty years ago, Roe v. Wade.

What are the possible outcomes of this case, and how might they affect future elections?

First, some facts of the case: Jackson Women’s Health Organization—the only licensed abortion facility in Mississippi—filed a lawsuit against the state in relation to a law passed in 2018 that banned most abortions after fifteen weeks of pregnancy. Therefore, Mississippi is asking the Supreme Court to decide whether a ban on pre-viability elective abortions (conducted before the baby can survive outside the mother’s womb) is constitutional.

In the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, the court ruled that it was unconstitutional for a state to ban abortions before the baby is viable. Now, if the justices rule in favor of the state of Mississippi (Dobbs), they will effectively be overturning or significantly limiting Roe.

There are at least three possible outcomes, and they all hold significance for future elections:

  • First outcome: defeat. It is possible that the Supreme Court will rule against Mississippi’s law, upholding a constitutional “right” to abortion until the baby is considered viable. As a result, the Supreme Court would continue to be the linchpin in the struggle for legal protection of the unborn baby’s right to life. The next U.S. presidential and senatorial candidates would continue to be scrutinized by voters on both sides of the issue for their continued commitment or opposition to the ruling.  Thankfully, this is the least likely (but not impossible) outcome.  The Court could simply have refused to hear the case if they did not want some sort of change in abortion jurisprudence.
  • Second outcome: a partial victory. The Court could retain a general “right” to abortion but allow states more freedom to decide when to place restrictions on abortion. (For example, a state could make the presence of a heartbeat the determining factor instead of viability.) In that case, the battle to protect the unborn will largely take place in state legislatures across the country.
  • Third outcome: victory. This could take the form of the Court recognizing that the unborn baby has a Constitutionally-protected right to life, just like everyone else. Or, the Court could simply leave it up to the states to decide that question, washing their hands of the abortion debate completely.

No matter what happens, current political temperatures will increase, and the fight for the unborn will have to continue. If the Court decides along the lines of the second or third options, state legislators will be front and center in deciding abortion laws in each and every state. Your governor will also have veto power over pro-life or pro-abortion bills.  Finally, state judges—who are either elected by voters or appointed by an elected governor—will play a crucial part in deciding whether such laws are allowed to stand.

Any type of victory will mean that pro-abortion groups will focus tremendous time, energy, and resources on these elections, and it will be critical for biblically-minded voters to know where legislators and candidates stand on the issue..

Pro-abortion efforts won’t be limited to the states, however. The White House has already stated its commitment to “codifying Roe v. Wade” . . . passing federal law that would override any state pro-life protections. Many in Congress are more than willing to pass such a law. (One example is the Women’s Health Protection Act, which passed the House of Representatives last month but is expected to be stopped by the Senate.) And of course, the push to expand the Supreme Court from 9 to 13 judges will continue with the goal of adding judicial activist justices who would uphold a federal abortion law.

With all this in mind, what can voters do?

First and foremost, be in prayer for the justices—from now until the oral arguments, and in the months afterward as they deliberate and write their decisions and opinions.

Second, make a personal commitment to use iVoterGuide to know the beliefs of your candidates running for Congress, your state legislature, governor, and judicial offices. In 2022, we will be expanding iVoterGuide’s candidate evaluations and will be covering statewide and state legislative elections in thirty-seven states. In order to help inform more biblically-minded voters such as yourself, make plans now to share iVoterGuide with your friends and family.

Whatever happens with Dobbs, the battle for life will continue in elections across the country.

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