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WASHINGTON – A conservative advocacy group launched by former Vice President Mike Pence is wading into a high-profile abortion case at the Supreme Court, arguing the landmark Roe v. Wade decision has contributed to the destabilization of families.
Pence’s group, Advancing American Freedom, is one of dozens of anti-abortion organizations to file briefs in recent days supporting Mississippi’s ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Nearly 230 GOP lawmakers also filed a brief Thursday, calling on the high court to release Roe's "vise grip on abortion politics."
The Supreme Court agreed in May to hear a challenge to the Mississippi ban, giving its new, six-member conservative majority a chance to roll back the 1973 ruling that women have a constitutional right to abortion and a 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey that affirmed the right but allowed states to ban abortions earlier in pregnancy.
"Societal developments since Roe and Casey were decided indicate that this court’s disregard for the value of human life, and its minimization of society’s fundamental interest in protecting unborn children, have substantially harmed people’s 'views of themselves and their places in society,'" the group asserts in its filing.
Abortion rights groups have disputed similar arguments and counter that overturning Roe would fundamentally threaten equality. Progressive groups have also called attention to the emphasis the high court has placed on honoring its precedents in Roe and other cases.
"In an unbroken line of decisions over the last fifty years, this court has held that the Constitution guarantees each person the right to decide whether to continue a pre-viability pregnancy," Mississippi's sole remaining abortion clinic, Jackson Women's Health Organization, told the court last year.
Aides said the Advancing American Freedom brief was the first major policy action Pence’s group has taken since the former vice president launched it in April. Several other groups joined the brief, including the Minnesota Family Council and the Family Leader in Iowa – a conservative Christian organization frequently courted by Republicans mulling future presidential runs.
After serving under President Donald Trump for four years, Pence has come under pressure from the former president and his supporters for not attempting to stop President Joe Biden’s rise to the White House, though the vice president had no power to do so.
The former Indiana governor was met with boos and shouts of "traitor" last month when he spoke at a conservative conference in Florida.
Pence and the other conservative groups are not parties to the case but are instead filing friend-of-the-court briefs in an effort to influence the justices.
A 7-2 majority concluded in Roe that women have the right to an abortion during the first and second trimesters but that states could impose restrictions in the second trimester. Years later, in Casey, the court allowed states to ban most abortions at viability, the point at which a fetus can survive outside the womb – roughly 24 weeks.
Mississippi’s ban directly challenges viability as the point when the state may intervene to ban the procedure. Abortion rights groups have said that if the court tosses the viability standard then it’s not clear where the justices might redraw it. That is a question that has vexed the nation's highest court for decades.
A federal district court in Mississippi struck down the state ban in 2018 and the New Orleans-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit upheld that decision in 2019, finding that the law was "facially unconstitutional because it directly conflicts with" prior Supreme Court precedent.
A decision is not expected in the Mississippi case until next year.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Mike Pence wades into abortion debate at Supreme Court