Federal Court Temporarily Blocks 15-Week Abortion Ban in Mississippi

Phil Bryant (R) on Monday signed a law-HB 1510-that bans abortion after 15 weeks' gestation. The measure is called the Gestational Age Act.

MS is among a small handful of states with only one remaining clinic that provides abortion services: in this case, Jackson Women's Health Organization.

A federal judge has heard arguments from attorneys seeking and opposing an order that would temporarily block a new MS law banning abortions after 15 weeks' gestation. The Jackson Women's Health Organization did not perform abortions past 16 weeks, according to clinic owner Diane Derzis.

Gov. Phil Bryant signed the law Monday, and it took effect immediately.

After signing the bill, the governor wrote on Twitter, "I am committed to making MS the safest place in America for an unborn child, and this bill will help us achieve that goal".

Louisiana's current law bans abortions at 20 weeks after conception. This is typically considered between 24 to 26 weeks gestation, the group said.

The measure, which went into effect immediately, includes some exceptions, like if a woman's life or a "major bodily function" is threatened or if the fetus has a health problem that would mean it likely wouldn't survive outside the womb. House Bill 1510 became law immediately upon Bryant's signature.

An AP report said that abortion opponents have sought the legal confrontation, hoping that federal courts will ultimately prohibit abortions before an unborn child is viable.

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves heard arguments Tuesday on the clinic's request for a temporary restraining order to block the law.

These abortion bans have been unconstitutional since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in 1973, and they will remain unconstitutional unless the U.S. Supreme Court either overturns its landmark decision or reverses 40 years' worth of case law about the importance of fetal viability.

Bryant seemed to predict Tuesday's lawsuit, saying "We'll probably be sued here in about a half hour, and that'll be fine with me".

"Politicians are not above the rule of law, and we are confident this risky bill will be struck down like every similar attempt before it", Center for Reproductive Rights President and CEO Nancy Northup said in a statement obtained by the AP. "The ban is clearly an attempt to effectively bring the state one step closer to outlawing abortion entirely", NARAL Pro-Choice America National Communications Director Kaylie Hanson Long said in a statement.

"There is no doubt that this unconstitutional abortion ban will harm MS women and families".

Abortion rights advocates are calling the law unconstitutional because it limits abortion before fetuses can live outside the womb.

She continued, "Our nation's permissive regime of abortion on-demand at any point in pregnancy established in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton has made the United States a global outlier and does not reflect the will of most Americans - especially where late-term abortions are concerned". Pregnancies resulting from rape and incest aren't exempted.

  • Jon Douglas