Mississippi health officer caught in the middle of landmark case
Thomas Dobbs is the State Health Officer in charge of Mississippi’s Department of Health, a position he has had since 2018. That was the same year that Republicans in the state legislature worked to pass a restrictive 15-week abortion ban, which at the time could not go into effect due to the Roe precedent.
But it was that legal challenge of Mississippi’s law that made it all the way to the Supreme Court this year, when six justices on the Court’s conservative majority voted to uphold it and the Court struck down Roe vs Wade, ending decades of legal protection for abortions before fetal viability.
Mr Dobbs was named in the case due to his position as head of the agency in charge of inspecting clinics across the state; he himself was not involved in the law’s passage. And in an interview with NPR, he described his attribution with the case as “just a quirk” of state law.
“Actually, that law passed before I was even in this job,” he told the news outlet. “Honestly, I have nothing to do with it.”
The case’s decision on Friday triggered a wave of protests around the country as well as furor from some progressives over the Democratic Party’s apparent powerless reponse. Many have called for President Joe Biden to support an end or changes to the Senate filibuster rule which would allow the body to more easily codify abortion rights into law; the president has rejected those calls.
Mississippi’s effort to overturn Roe has now led to much more restrictive abortion bans being passed in states around the country following the decision as Republicans race to pass laws that previously would have had no chance of surviving a legal challenge.