Mississippi's Restrictive Abortion Ban Blocked By Federal Judge

Alejandra Salazar

A federal judge has blocked Mississippi’s latest attempt to enact restrictive anti-abortion legislation.

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves issued a preliminary injunction against Mississippi’s so-called “heartbeat” abortion law on Friday, the Mississippi Clarion Ledger reports. The bill would ban abortions after 6 weeks into a pregnancy, or when a fetal heartbeat is detected.

The bill, which follows similarly restrictive legislation recently passed in Alabama, Georgia, and Missouri, was set to become state law on July 1.

“Here we go again,” Reeves wrote in Friday’s injunction. “Mississippi has passed another law banning abortions prior to viability. The latest interpretation (Mississippi's new law) bans abortions in Mississippi after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is as early as 6 weeks.”

This is not the first time the judge has taken action against Mississippi’s attempts to pass strict anti-abortion laws. In March 2018, Reeves blocked a bill that aimed to ban all abortions after 15 weeks, deeming it unconstitutional. The state is currently appealing Reeves’ earlier ruling.

Along with blocking the bill, Reeves moved to merge a lawsuit challenging these recent abortion restrictions with an ongoing suit against last year’s 15-week ban. Both were filed by The Center for Reproductive Rights.

“BREAKING: A federal judge just struck down Mississippi’s 6 week abortion ban!!” the Center for Reproductive Rights tweeted on Friday. “Once again the rule of law has prevailed over political ploys to control personal health decisions. We’ll fight tooth and nail to make sure all of these bans meet the same fate.”

Opponents of Mississippi’s bill cite a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court ruling stating that a woman has the right to choose an abortion up until the fetus is considered viable, typically at 23 or 24 weeks. Abortion rights advocates also argue that six weeks is far too early into pregnancy to reasonably make a decision about abortion. In fact, most women don’t even know they’re pregnant by the six-week mark.

Supporters of the bill, including Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, argued that the state wants to protect unborn children. In a statement, Bryant said he is seeking to challenge Reeves’ decision.

”As Governor, I’ve pledged to do all I can to protect life,” Bryant said. “Time and time again the Legislature and I have done just that. I will encourage the Attorney General to seek immediate review of the preliminary injunction.”

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