The story of abortion access in the state helps explain why some legal experts believe the U.S. may be on the brink of overturning Roe v. Wade
By Caroline Kitchener and Casey Parks
Nov 30, 2021
When the abortion doctor lost his medical license in 2004, Nancy Atkins wasn’t sure how she could keep going. Malachy DeHenre had been the only doctor at the clinic Atkins owned in Jackson, Miss. Recruiting OB/GYNs to perform abortions anywhere was difficult, but in Mississippi, Atkins had learned, it was nearly impossible. The state had the toughest regulations and the most ardent antiabortion protesters. One activist even regularly told people that killing an abortion provider might count as “justifiable homicide.”
Seventeen years later, Atkins isn’t surprised that her state is the one that some legal observers believe is poised to overturn or seriously undermine Roe v. Wade. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a challenge to Mississippi’s law banning most abortions after 15 weeks. Roe protects a person’s constitutional right to abortion before viability, usually around 22 to 24 weeks.