The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday it will hear arguments in December about a case that directly challenges Roe v. Wade, the decades-old ruling that gives women the right to an abortion.
The court scheduled oral arguments for December 1 to hear a case concerning a Mississippi state law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
The case directly asks justices to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that allows women to have abortions in most circumstances. Roe v. Wade recognizes a constitutional right to abortion before a fetus is viable, typically around 24 weeks of pregnancy.
The Supreme Court is being closely watched on issues of abortion after it decided earlier this month to allow a Texas state law banning most abortions after six weeks to remain in effect while it undergoes legal challenges.
The Republican-backed Texas law bars abortions once cardiac activity has been detected in an embryo, which typically happens at six weeks when many women are not aware they are pregnant.
The law also allows members of the public to sue people who may have facilitated an abortion after six weeks.
The Supreme Court has not yet ruled on the constitutionality of the Texas law, but rather allowed it to remain in effect while court challenges play out.
Last week, the Biden administration formally asked a federal judge to block enforcement of the Texas law until legal challenges to it are resolved.
The Supreme Court became more conservative under former President Donald Trump, who appointed three justices to the nine-seat bench. Conservatives now hold a 6-3 majority.
The high court agreed in May to hear the Mississippi case, but its recent decision to allow the highly restrictive Texas law to take effect fueled speculation that a majority of the justices are inclined to formally curtail abortion rights.
A poll released Monday by Monmouth University found that 62% of Americans believe abortion should either always be legal or be legal with some limitations. Twenty-four percent said it should be illegal except in rare circumstances such as rape, while 11% said it should always be illegal.
The poll also found that 54% of Americans disagreed with the Supreme Court's decision to let the Texas abortion law stand while the legal battle continues.
The Democratic-led House has begun the process of drafting a law to codify Roe v. Wade, however the measure is not expected to win approval in the evenly divided Senate. The Biden administration announced its support of the House bill on Monday.
The Supreme Court's next term begins in October. Justices plan to return to the courtroom after a year and half of remote sessions due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Some information in this report came from The Associated Press.