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With the U.S. Supreme Court set to hear opening arguments Wednesday in a case that could overturn Roe v. Wade and threaten abortion rights for millions of people across the country, right-wing anti-choice groups are preparing to ensure that anyone who becomes pregnant in the U.S. is forced to continue the pregnancy.

The consideration of Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban represents a moment the anti-choice movement has been waiting for since 1973, when Roe v. Wade affirmed that pregnant people have the right to obtain abortion care until 24 weeks of pregnancy.

"The people who are looking for abortions will not just suddenly say, 'Oh, I guess it's illegal now, so I won't get one.' They will look for whatever options they can find, including those outside the law."

Right-wing groups are lobbying lawmakers to pass state-level restrictions and ban sales of abortion pills, should Roe v. Wade be overturned.

After a number of extreme forced-pregnancy laws passed by right-wing state legislatures were overturned by federal courts in recent years, Mississippi officials are asking the high court to overturn Roe v. Wade in addition to allowing their law—which includes no exceptions for pregnancies that result from rape or incest—to stand.

Former Vice President Mike Pence called on the Supreme Court Tuesday to "make history" by overturning the ruling—a move that would swiftly put in place abortion bans in 12 states that have "trigger bans," including Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky, and in 14 other states that have severely restricted access to care.

Pence claimed in his remarks that "Americans are ready for an end to the judicial tyranny of Roe v. Wade"—despite the fact that only 27% of Americans back overturning the decision and 60% support upholding it, according to recent polling by ABC News/The Washington Post—and that the right to obtain abortion care should be left up to state legislatures.

Anti-choice groups including Students for Life of America and Americans United for Life are lobbying state-level lawmakers to pass new abortion restrictions and bans in the event that Roe is overturned.

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"We've had a post-Roe strategy for the last 15 years," Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, toldPolitico Tuesday.

The strategy includes launching a $5 million anti-choice ad campaign that will run in 20 U.S. cities and working with federal Republican lawmakers to ban online sales of pills used for medication abortions, which reproductive rights advocates say more and more people facing unwanted pregnancies may rely on if Roe is overturned.

With red states passing extreme forced-pregnancy bills in recent years, states including Louisiana and Mississippi have seen skyrocketing demand for abortion pills that can be accessed by mail, according to international nonprofit group Aid Access.

"This is a window into what the world will look like if the Mississippi and Texas bans are allowed to go into effect," Abigail Aiken, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin and lead author of Aid Access's study, toldPolitico in May. "The people who are looking for abortions will not just suddenly say: 'Oh, I guess it's illegal now, so I won't get one.' They will look for whatever options they can find, including those outside the law."

Pregnant people in states that have passed bans—including Texas, where a six-week ban was allowed by the Supreme Court to stand in September—have increasingly traveled across state lines in recent months to access care, overwhelming clinics in states including Oklahoma and Kansas. According to the Guttmacher Institute, patients seeking care in Louisiana would have to drive an average of 666 miles, one way, to see a provider if Roe is overturned.

With right-wing groups rallying to strip Americans of their right to obtain abortion care should Roe be overturned, pro-choice advocacy groups prepared to demonstrate outside the Supreme Court on Wednesday, demanding not only that the law be upheld but also that the Senate pass the Women's Health Protection Act, which would keep abortion access free from medically unnecessary restrictions and create a statutory right for providers to provide abortion care.

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"Abortion is healthcare, and the majority of Americans agree: We need to defend Roe v. Wade," said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) earlier this week. "Congress can do that by passing the Women's Health Protection Act to protect access to abortion for everyone—regardless of their zip code. Let's get it done."

Julia Conley
CommonDreams