‘What Specifically Is The Right Here?’: Justice Thomas Questions Where In The Constitution Abortion Is Protected

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Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas questioned Wednesday where in the Constitution abortion is protected as the Supreme Court heard oral arguments over a Mississippi abortion law case that challenges Roe V. Wade.

“Would you specifically tell me, specifically state what the right is, is it specifically abortion? Is it a liberty? Is it liberty? Is it autonomy? Is it privacy?” Thomas asked.

“The right is grounded in the liberty component of the 14th Amendment, Justice Thomas. But I think that it promotes interest in autonomy, bodily integrity, liberty and equality. And I do think it is specifically the right to abortion here, the right of a woman to be able to control, without the state forcing her to continue a pregnancy, whether to carry that baby to term,” one of the lawyers challenging the Mississippi law said.

“I understand we’re talking about abortion here,” Thomas said. “But what is confusing is that we, if we were talking about the Second Amendment, I know exactly what we’re talking about. If we’re talking about the Fourth Amendment I know what we’re talking about because it’s written there. What specifically is the right here that we’re talking about?”

The lawyer said that both the Second Amendment and other amendments have needed further explanation from the court to determine their bounds, arguing the case with abortion is no different. The lawyer argued the question about abortion only tips toward allowing the state to intervene when the question of viability arises.

“It’s the right of a woman prior to viability to control whether to continue with a pregnancy.”  (RELATED: Here’s What Would Actually Happen If Roe Is Overturned)

The court is hearing Dobbs v. Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization, which involves Mississippi’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks. The case challenges the precedent that the right to an abortion is protected before fetal viability. The state is asking the court to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The law was blocked by a federal court in May.

The Supreme Court ruled in 1973 in Roe v. Wade that the Constitution protects a woman’s right to an abortion before the point of fetal viability, 24 to 28 weeks of gestation, while granting states the individual right to prohibit an abortion after the fetus is considered viable, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Republicans are hoping this case will grant states the right to enforce their own abortion legislation.