Mississippi’s ban on nearly all abortions after 15 weeks forces women to carry pregnancies to term under adverse circumstances and increases the risk of maternal mortality and other health problems, according to a public health amicus brief filed in the United States Supreme Court on September 20. The brief, submitted on behalf of the respondents in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, is scheduled for oral argument before the Court on December 1, 2021. The brief is signed by the American Public Health Association, the Guttmacher Institute, the Center for U.S. Policy and 547 deans, department chairs, leading academic scholars and public health professionals from across the nation.
In the amicus brief, the scholars argue that Mississippi’s abortion ban–which provides no exception for rape or incest–runs counter to legal precedent and ignores the public health risks it creates for women and their families. The organizational and individual amici joined together in the brief to urge the Supreme Court to reject Mississippi’s law as unconstitutional.
“As a pediatrician I have seen the adverse consequences to health and wellbeing when women are forced to carry unintended and unwanted pregnancies to term,” Lynn Goldman, M.D., Dean of the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, stated. “Mississippi’s ban, and others like it, disproportionately affects younger women, women of color, and communities already struggling with high maternal mortality rates, preterm births and other health burdens. They are an unwarranted intrusion on women’s constitutional rights, their privacy, and their ability to work with healthcare professionals to make the right decisions for their own health and that of their families.”
The amici call on the Supreme Court to affirm a lower court’s ruling declaring Mississippi’s law unconstitutional. They further argue that objective evidence overwhelmingly points to abortion access as a necessary tool in promoting health and in mitigating health threats to women and their families.
Read a George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health blog post about the public health amicus brief here.