Mississippi Judge Says Late-Term Abortion Ban Unconstitutional

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 2, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Mississippi Judge Says Late-Term Abortion Ban Unconstitutional Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
June 2, 2005

Jackson, MS (LifeNews.com) — A federal judge in Mississippi says a state law that places limits on abortions during the second trimester is unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Tom S. Lee rendered his decision on Wednesday.

The law would have prohibited the abortions in stand-alone abortion businesses because of the danger to the mother during the more risky abortion. Such abortions would only be able to be performed in hospitals and outpatient surgical facilities.

In its arguments before Judge Lee, the state said moving the abortions to more legitimate medical facilities allowed women to be closer to doctors who could performing emergency surgery in cases of botched abortions.

However, Lee claimed the law was enacted "for reasons wholly unrelated to any actual safety or health concerns."

Lee said the state knew no abortion facility in the state was licensed as an ambulatory surgical facility or private hospital and thus the law would essentially ban all such second-trimester abortions.

He said the state’s action made abortions "effectively unavailable in the state of Mississippi beyond the first trimester."

Assistant Attorney General Jacob Ray told AP that his office would ask Judge Lee to reconsider his decision.

Reacting to the decision, Terri Herring, president of Pro-Life Mississippi, told the Associated Press, "If we’re going to claim to have safe, legal abortion, the least we can do is make it safe. Unless these clinics stop at first trimester, they’re not safe. And they’re never safe for unborn children."

The law, scheduled to begin July 1, would have prohibited abortions at abortion businesses starting with the 13th week into pregnancy. Abortions were previously allowed at such facilities up to 16 weeks into pregnancy.

The Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the state’s only abortion center, filed suit last year against the state with the help of the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights.

Ray said the abortion business could perform second-trimester abortions if it would makes the changes necessary to become an ambulatory surgical facility.

State lawmakers and pro-life groups pointed to the Dr. Malachy Dehenre to cite safety concerns.

He is a Mississippi abortion practitioner whose patients suffered damaging and even deadly complications. The state medical board suspended indefinitely his medical license in March.