Judge to hear request to block abortion law

Mar 23, 2018, 21:18
Judge to hear request to block abortion law

Governor Phil Bryant is not happy about a federal judge's decision to temporarily block a state law banning abortion after 15 weeks, the most restrictive abortion law in the United States. The measure is called the Gestational Age Act.

The only abortion clinic in the state quickly filed a complaint in federal court to block the law.

A federal judge has heard arguments from attorneys seeking and opposing an order that would temporarily block a new MS law banning abortions after 15 weeks' gestation.

Clinic owner Diane Derzis told The Associated Press that the woman was able to have the abortion Tuesday after Reeves temporarily blocked the law.

The law goes into effect immediately.

The Susan B. Anthony List, a national pro-life organization, praised Bryant and state lawmakers "for their commitment to making MS "the safest place in America" for unborn children and their mothers".

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That means the restrictions kick in about two weeks before those of states whose 20-week bans begin at conception. This is typically considered between 24 to 26 weeks gestation, the group said.

In 2016, lawmakers more than doubling the mandatory waiting period for women seeking abortions from 24 hours to 72 hours, a move that is now being challenged in court. In fact, the only exceptions to law are if the fetus has an issue that is "incompatible with life" or if the mother's life or "major bodily function" would be threatened by carrying the pregnancy to full term.

The U.S. Senate failed to pass a 20-week abortion ban bill in January.

The Center for Reproductive Rights, whose lawyers are representing the Jackson clinic and Carr-Ellis in the lawsuit, said in a statement Tuesday, "the law violates decades of well-established, clear precedent under the U.S. Constitution. There are only a few clinics left to serve patients who need abortion care even as we speak, and with HB 1510 targeting the lone remaining clinic in MS, a scarce health service will become even more so".

Republican legislative leaders Lt. Gov Tate Reeves and House Speaker Philip Gunn both attended Bryant's private signing ceremony.

Bryant seemed to predict Tuesday's lawsuit, saying "We'll probably be sued here in about a half hour, and that'll be fine with me".

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U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves on Tuesday granted a temporary restraining order requested by the state's only abortion clinic.

Dr. Willie Parker, board chair of Physicians for Reproductive Health, said in a statement that the legislation in MS is unconstitutional, and illustrates how women in the South are being denied access to reproductive care.

Reeves did not rule from the bench but said he would rule as soon as possible.

The suit asserts: "Under decades of United States Supreme Court precedent, the state of MS can not ban abortion prior to viability, regardless of what exceptions are provided to the ban".

Reeves stated in court that the "ultimate question" is whether a state can ban abortion before viability.

Abortion rights advocates are calling the law unconstitutional because it limits abortion before fetuses can live outside the womb. There are no exceptions for incidents of rape or incest.

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