MS law bans abortions past 15 weeks gestation

Mississippi law bans abortions past 15 weeks gestation

The nation's most restrictive abortion law is headed for a showdown before a federal judge only hours after it was signed by Mississippi's governor. The measure is called the Gestational Age Act.

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves issued the temporary restraining order in response to a lawsuit filed on behalf of the Jackson Women's Health Organization, the state's only abortion provider.

Opponents of a new MS law banning most abortions after 15 weeks of gestation have filed a lawsuit.

While many anti-abortion bills make exceptions for rape and incest victims, Mississippi's new law does not allow abuse victims to terminate their pregnancy beyond the 15-week mark. The governor said the law "protects maternal health and will further our efforts to make MS the safest place in America for an unborn child".

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"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", the complaint reads. This is typically considered between 24 to 26 weeks gestation, the group said.

Dr. Sacheen Carr-Ellis, in a sworn statement, says she'll have to stop providing abortions to women past the 15 week ban, or else lose her MS medical license, as House Bill 1510 requires.

The measure, which went into effect immediately, includes some exceptions, like if a woman's life or a "major bodily function" is threatened or if the fetus has a health problem that would mean it likely wouldn't survive outside the womb. Soon after signing the bill, the governor tweeted: "I was proud to sign House Bill 1510 this afternoon". Later on Monday, the organisation filed a motion for a temporary restraining order, said Robert B. McDuff, one of the lawyers for the clinic. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of MS and listed both the Jackson Women's Health Organization and the abortion provider's resident physician, Dr. Sacheen Carr-Ellis, as plaintiffs.

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

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Republican Gov. Phil Bryant signed a bill Monday, and it became law immediately. "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".

The Center of Reproductive Rights is reportedly handling the lawsuit.

Derzis said she was "delighted" Reeves temporarily blocked the law.

Some legal experts have said a change in the law is unlikely unless the makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court changes in a way that favors abortion opponents. Courts have consistently struck down similar bans on abortion before viability as unconstitutional.

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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".

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