Virginia’s new attorney general has withdrawn the state from a landmark lawsuit that could determine the legality of abortion nationwide.
“Following the change in Administration on January 15, 2022, the Attorney General has reconsidered Virginia’s position in this case,” Attorney General Jason Miyares’ office said in a letter addressed to the Supreme Court. “The purpose of this letter is to notify the Court that Virginia no longer adheres to the arguments contained in its previously filed brief. Virginia is now of the view that the Constitution is silent on question of abortion, and that it is therefore up to the people in the several States to determine the legal status and regulatory treatment of abortion.”
The case revolves around Mississippi’s abortion law, billed as a challenge to Roe V. Wade, which bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The only exception to the law is if the mother’s life is in jeopardy.
The Jackson Women’s Health Organization, an abortion clinic, initially brought the lawsuit. A district court granted the plaintiff injunctive relief on the grounds that the law violates the Fourteenth Amendment, effectively placing enforcement of the new law on hold. The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that decision.
But the Mississippi Department of Health (MDOH) appealed the appellate court’s ruling, and the Supreme Court has decided that it will hear the case.
When the lawsuit reached the federal level, 22 states and the District of Columbia joined the plaintiff. Virginia, which previously had a Democrat attorney general, was one of those states.
But Miyares, a Republican, now holds the third-highest position in the Commonwealth’s government, and with the change of administration comes the change of the state’s position on the lawsuit.
The letter argues that the nation’s two top abortion rulings, essentially legalizing abortion, were wrongly decided. Those cases were Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey (1992) and Roe v. Wade (1973).
“It is Virginia’s position that the Court’s decisions in Roe and Casey were wrongly decided,” according to the letter. “Unmoored from the Constitution’s text, the Court’s abortion jurisprudence has proven unworkable, and the Court’s effort to save it has distorted other areas of the law. This Court should restore judicial neutrality to the abortion debate by permitting the people of the several States to resolve these questions for themselves.”
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case in early December.
It is unknown when the court will issue its ruling.
The case is Thomas E. Dobbs, State Health Officer of the Mississippi Department of Health, et al. v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, et al., No. 19-1392.
– – –
Pete D’Abrosca is a contributor at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Follow Pete on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Jason Miyares” by Glenn Youngkin. Background Photo “Embryo Week 9-10” by lunar caustic. CC BY 2.0.