With the fate of Roe v. Wade still in the balance, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to issue its ruling on a landmark case in the coming days. Many court watchers thought the high court would rule on abortion today, but that much-anticipated decision has not yet been released.
The court could release more opinions on short notice this week, but it typically announces decisions on Mondays.
Advocates on both sides of the abortion debate have been on heightened alert ever since a draft opinion was leaked May 2 indicating that the high court may be poised to strike down Roe and return the abortion question back to each state to decide.
Over the next few weeks, the Supreme Court will release several opinions as the current term concludes later this month. One of those opinions will be the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization,
If Roe were overturned it would not stop or even restrict abortions in Alaska, but only affirm that the state has a right to do so.
Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor signed onto an amicus brief, joining 22 other states in urging the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe in the Dobbs case. The brief was filed in support of a Mississippi law that bans abortion at 15 weeks of pregnancy unless performed to address a physical medical emergency or because of severe fetal abnormalities. Mississippi has asked the high court to reverse Roe and affirm that states have a right to ban or restrict abortions.
If the court agrees, it could reverse the 1973 Roe v. Wade opinion that legalized abortion across the nation. Since that time, more than 62 million unborn babies have been killed by abortion.
While reversing Roe would have no immediate impact on Alaska, it would allow some 20 states with pro-life laws on the books to begin enforcing them.
In Alaska, abortion activists are gathering to determine what steps they should take if Roe is overturned. On June 8, Planned Parenthood is holding an online meeting called “After the Rally,” with the aim of brainstorming what actions the pro-abortion movement will take in what it calls the “fight for abortion rights in Alaska.”
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For pro-life Alaskans, the future is also uncertain. If Roe were overturned it would not stop or even restrict abortions in Alaska, but only affirm that the state has a right to do so. Alaska’s abortion laws are among the most liberal in the nation, and the Alaska Supreme Court has struck down every legislative, executive or citizen-led attempt to restrict or ban the killing of unborn babies. Not only does Alaska fail to restrict abortion even modestly, it also publicly underwrites the procedures with state allocated Medicaid funds.
In an attempt to address the court’s insistence on abortion rights, Alaska Sen. Shelley Hughes introduced a resolution to amend the Alaska Constitution by explicitly clarifying that “to protect human life, nothing in this constitution may be construed to secure or protect a right to an abortion or require the State to fund an abortion.” Hughes’ bill, however, died in the Senate Finance Committee this year.
Some pro-life advocates have argued that Alaska could address the abortion question through a constitutional convention. Every 10 years Alaskans are asked whether to call a Constitutional Convention. The next opportunity is this November. While Alaskans have never successfully convened a constitutional convention since statehood, there has been much more debate and discussion about the matter this year.
Others argue that the State Legislature needs to use its constitutional authority to explicitly define what the “right to privacy” means in Alaska Constitution, and clarify to the State Supreme Court that it does not entail abortion.