Mississippi Fights to Save Law Banning Abortions on Babies After 15 Weeks

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Dec 18, 2018   |   7:21PM   |   Jackson, MS

Mississippi leaders are fighting in court for the right to prohibit abortions on unborn babies after 15 weeks, the earliest abortion ban in America.

The AP reports state Attorney General Jim Hood said he will file an appeal in defense of the law after a federal judge ruled against it in November.

Hood said it is his “duty to appeal” the ruling because the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has not heard a case on the issue yet.

The law, which passed the legislature in the spring, is the earliest abortion ban in the country. The law 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.

“As I have repeatedly said, I want Mississippi to be the safest place in America for an unborn child,” Gov. Phil Bryant said in March. “House Bill 1510 will help us achieve that goal.”

There is just one abortion clinic left in the state in Jackson. It filed suit immediately after Mississippi’s governor signed the pro-life law, joined by the Center for Reproductive Rights.

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In November, Judge Carlton Reeves of the Southern District of Mississippi blocked the law, arguing it “unequivocally” violates a woman’s right to an abortion.

Reeves, who was appointed by pro-abortion President Barack Obama, lobbed sharp criticisms at pro-life advocates, including false claims that they do not really care about women or babies. Instead, the judge claimed to understand pro-life advocates’ real motivations: “controlling women and minorities,” CNN reports.

Jackson Women’s Health, the abortion facility suing to overturn the law, tried to expand its lawsuit to 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 would consider those challenges separately from the 15-week ban.

Owners of the Jackson abortion clinic said they do abortions up to 18 weeks. According to the lawsuit, the facility aborted 78 unborn babies who were 15 weeks or older in 2017.

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

It is unclear if the legislation would be upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.