A protest outside the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016 about an abortion restrictions law passed in Texas. Credit: Jordan Uhl, Flickr

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban on Dec. 1, providing what many believe could be the first opportunity for the conservative majority to widely limit access to abortion in America.

On Monday the court released its schedule for its October term, and will hear oral arguments for Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in December. The case focuses on Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, which the Mississippi Legislature passed in 2018 and was immediately blocked by lower federal courts.

The case challenges Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that affirmed pregnant people have a constitutional right to receive an abortion. Mississippi’s case is a testing ground, the first reproductive rights case to be argued before the Supreme Court since Justice Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed in 2020.

The case before the court is not the most restrictive ban passed in Mississippi. In 2019 the state Legislature passed a fetal heartbeat ban which prohibited abortion after six weeks, but it was struck down in an appelate court. The 15-week ban passed in 2018. State law currently prohibits abortions after 20 weeks in Mississippi, though the sole provider in the state only performs them up to 16 weeks.

Last month the Supreme Court allowed a Texas law to go into effect that prohibits abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

READ MORE: Mississippi pro-choice activists prepare for an America without Roe v. Wade

Oral arguments will be heard in person, but the courtroom will not be open to the public. The court said earlier this month that a live feed will be made available.

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Kayleigh Skinner joined the Mississippi Today team in January 2017 as an education and legislative reporter and advanced to a senior staff member in her four years with the company. Before joining Mississippi Today, Kayleigh worked at The Hechinger Report, Chalkbeat Tennessee, and The Commercial Appeal. She has appeared on MSNBC, NPR, and BBC Newsday Radio to discuss her reporting.