Mississippi Abortion Ban Unnecessary, Has Legal Issues Pro-Life Attorney Says

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 3, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Mississippi Abortion Ban Unnecessary, Has Legal Issues Pro-Life Attorney Says Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
March 3, 2006

Jackson, MS (LifeNews.com) — Mississippi lawmakers are pushing ahead with a ban on most abortions in the state, but a pro-life attorney says the ban may be unnecessary and will likely never make it to the Supreme Court because it will run into problems with the state constitution.

A Mississippi legislative panel approved a ban on virtually all abortions and the state House on Friday changed the ban to include rape and incest provisions.

However, pro-life attorney Paul Linton, a former lead counsel with Americans United for Life, says the language in the abortion ban mirrors a pre-Roe abortion ban already on the books.

"Mississippi has never expressly repealed its 1966 pre-Roe law that prohibits abortion except to save the life of the mother and in cases where the pregnancy resulted from rape," Linton told LifeNews.com.

Linton said the law has the exceptions Gov. Haley Barbour wants and that state lawmakers just added to the measure.

"So what is the point of this new bill?" he asks.

Pro-life groups have said they’re worried the bill will be overturned when it gets to the Supreme Court because the high court has a 5-4 pro-abortion majority. That could add to the pro-Roe case law and further entrench the legal precedent.

However, Linton told LifeNews.com the abortion ban may never make it out of the state. That’s because Mississippi, like several other states, has a court ruling misusing the privacy clause in the state constitution to guarantee a right to abortion.

"Several years ago, the Mississippi Supreme Court held that the state constitution’s implied right of privacy protects a right to abortion, separate and independent from the right to abortion recognized in Roe," he explained.

"Thus, the new bill being considered could not be used as a ‘test case’ to challenge Roe because it will be struck down, on state constitutional grounds, in state court and no Supreme Court review would be possible of such a decision," Linton added.

"The bill, then, will achieve nothing useful to the pro-life cause," Linton concluded.