Judge Blocks Nation’s Most Pro-Life Law Banning Abortions After 15 Weeks

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Apr 13, 2018   |   10:35AM   |   Jackson, MS

A Mississippi judge extended a block Wednesday on a new state law that prohibits abortions on unborn babies after 15 weeks.

The law, which passed the legislature earlier this spring, is the earliest abortion ban in the country. It prohibits abortions after 15 weeks except when there are risks to the life or physical health of the mother, or fatal fetal anomalies. Previously, Mississippi law banned abortion at 20 weeks after conception.

This week, the AP reports U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves blocked the state from enforcing the law until October and scheduled a court hearing on the law for Sept. 24.

Jackson Women’s Health, the abortion facility suing to overturn the law, recently expanded its lawsuit to also challenge the state 24-hour waiting period, a requirement that appointments between an abortionist and patient be in person, a requirement that only doctors perform abortions and other abortion clinic regulations.

However, Reeves said he will consider those challenges separately from the 15-week ban, according to the report.

“The Supreme Court says every woman has a constitutional right to ‘personal privacy’ regarding her body,” Reeves wrote when he initially blocked the law in March. “That right protects her choice ‘to have an abortion before viability.’ States cannot ‘prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision’ to do so.”

Reeves said in court that the “ultimate question” is whether a state can ban abortion before viability. He asked, “Does the state have the right to trump the woman’s right to have control over her decisions, over her body?”

With the 15-week ban blocked, Mississippi law currently prohibits abortions at 20 weeks after conception. There are similar limits in 17 other states. State records indicate about 200 abortions a year kill unborn babies who are between 15 and 20 weeks.

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Many states have approved abortion bans that protect unborn children after 20 weeks of pregnancy, which is the most they are able to do considering the Supreme Court refuses to allow states to ban abortions entirely. But Mississippi is pushing the envelope by banning abortions at 15 weeks.

At this point, it is unclear if the legislation would withstand a court challenge. President Donald Trump promised to appoint conservative judges to the Supreme Court, and pro-life advocates praised his choice of Neil Gorsuch; however, there still is a majority of judges on the high court who do not think unborn babies deserve a right to life, especially prior to viability.