Appeals Court Blocks Mississippi Ban on Abortions When Unborn Babies Feel Pain

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Jan 17, 2020   |   7:48PM   |   Jackson, MS

Mississippi suffered another loss Friday when a federal court refused to hear its appeal in favor of a law to ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The Hill reports the full Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the state’s request Friday after a Fifth Circuit panel blocked the law in December.

For years, the voter-elected state legislature has been trying to protect unborn babies from abortion through various laws. Each, however, has been blocked by legal challenges filed by the abortion industry.

The law that passed in 2018 prohibits abortions after 15 weeks except when there are risks to the life or physical health of the mother or fatal fetal anomalies. In 2019, state lawmakers passed another law protecting unborn babies from abortion after their heartbeats are detectable, about six weeks of pregnancy. That law also is blocked by a court challenge.

Currently, abortions are prohibited after 20 weeks in Mississippi.

In December, the Fifth Circuit panel ruled that states cannot ban abortions before unborn babies are viable, citing Roe v. Wade.

“States may regulate abortion procedures prior to viability so long as they do not impose an undue burden on the woman’s right, but they may not ban abortions,” the court ruled. “The law at issue is a ban.”

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Bloomberg Law reports more:

Mississippi asked for a redo, urging all the court’s judges to hear arguments over the law’s validity. The state’s legitimate interests in regulating abortion should be taken into account when a court is considering the constitutionality of any law that restricts previability abortions, it said.

The law, which prohibits health-care providers from performing, inducing, or attempting to perform an abortion on an “unborn human being” if 15 or more weeks have passed since a woman’s last menstrual period, was “unequivocally” unconstitutional, the trial court said.

Jackson Women’s Health, the abortion facility suing to overturn the law, does 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 has refused to allow states to ban abortions prior to viability.

But many states are challenging this precedent now that the U.S. Supreme Court has a 5-4 conservative majority. In March, the Supreme Court is slated to hear an important abortion case out of Louisiana about state abortion clinic regulations meant to protect women’s safety.