Nina Totenberg

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Updated December 1, 2021 at 5:35 PM ET

The right to an abortion in the United States appeared to be on shaky ground as a divided Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday on the fate of Roe v. Wade, the court's 1973 decision that legalized abortion in the United States.

An epic argument at the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday: At issue is whether to reverse the court's nearly half-century-old Roe v. Wade decision and subsequent decisions declaring that women have a constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy.

Until now, all the court's abortion decisions have upheld Roe's central framework — that women have a constitutional right to an abortion in the first two trimesters of pregnancy when a fetus is unable to survive outside the womb, until roughly between 22 and 24 weeks.

For nearly a half-century, abortion has been a constitutional right in the United States. But this week, the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in a Mississippi case that directly challenges Roe v. Wade and subsequent decisions.

Those rulings consistently declared that a woman has a constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy in the first two trimesters of pregnancy when a fetus is unable to survive outside the womb. But with that abortion right now in doubt, it's worth looking back at its history.

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Monday in a case involving an FBI undercover operation at a mosque in California. Area Muslims are suing the FBI over a nearly year-long surveillance program that, at least publicly, yielded no results and proved a huge embarrassment to the bureau.

How it began

In hindsight, the covert operation unfolded like some sort of black comedy. As Ira Glass reported on This American Life back in 2012, "It is a cautionary tale, a case where we can watch everything go wrong."

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