Mississippi Judge Blocks Law Prohibiting Late-Term Abortions

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 24, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Mississippi Judge Blocks Law Prohibiting Late-Term Abortions

by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
July 24, 2004

Jackson, MS (LifeNews.com) — A federal judge blocked Mississippi’s law banning late-term abortions at private abortion businesses, stating that it did nothing new to protect women.

Under a new law set to take effect July 1, abortions after the 13th week of pregnancy could only be performed at hospitals or ambulatory surgical clinics, although none of those facilities currently perform abortions. That’s to make sure women have access to a legitimate medical facility in case of a botched abortion that threatens her life.

Public hospitals are currently restricted from performing abortions except in rare cases of rape, incest, fatal anomalies in the unborn child or risk to the mother’s life.

The state argued that the law would protect women by having later abortions performed in safer, more professional environments, while the law’s opponents, abortion businesses, argued that their facilities made abortions safer.

“It would hardly be reasonable to conclude that the state’s effective decision to ban early second-trimester abortions by this plaintiff, without reference to whether it meets the relevant health and safety criteria, does anything to further the state’s professed desire to protect the health and safety of women who choose abortion,” state U.S. District Judge Tom S. Lee.

Susan Hill, president of Jackson Women’s Health Organization abortion business said the restrictions could have prevented 10 percent of the abortions they normally perform annually.

Last week, pro-abortion attorney Simon Heller argued for the abortion business that the new law would endanger women by limiting access to abortion, forcing them to travel out of state or carry an unwanted pregnancy full-term.

Assistant Attorney General Roger Googe, Jr. argued that the law was intended to provide a safer environment for women seeking a second trimester abortion.

Women who suffer from botched abortions are usually not able to obtain emergency medical care at an abortion facility and must be transported to a hospital for follow-up care. Some women have died or suffered further complications as a result of the delay in transferring to a medical facility.

Hill noted that Mississippi is one of the most restrictive states on abortion, telling the Clarion-Ledger that her company operates abortion businesses in Wisconsin, Indiana, Delaware, Georgia, and North Carolina as well.

Pat Cartrette, director of Pro-Life Mississippi, said the law is needed to address safety concerns, as there have been reports of serious injuries to women during late-term abortions.

There were 3,566 abortions performed in Mississippi in 2001, the latest year information is available. The number of women who had complications is unknown, as abortion businesses are not required to report such information.