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Abortion-rights group sues Mississippi over 'heartbeat' law

Gov. Phil Bryant signs heartbeat abortion bill.

An abortion-rights group is asking a federal judge to block a Mississippi law that will ban most abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, about six weeks into pregnancy.

Posted: Mar 28, 2019 2:20 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — An abortion-rights group is asking a federal judge to block a Mississippi law that will ban most abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, about six weeks into pregnancy.

The Center for Reproductive Rights on Thursday expanded a lawsuit it filed last year challenging a Mississippi law that banned abortions after 15 weeks' pregnancy. A federal judge declared that law unconstitutional.

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant signed the heartbeat bill March 21, and it is set to become law July 1. It's one of the strictest abortion laws in the nation.

Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement that the law is "a near total ban on abortion."

"Many women don't even know they're pregnant at six weeks, and this law would force them to carry their pregnancies to term," Northup said. "Just four months ago, a federal judge told Mississippi they cannot ban abortion after 15 weeks, and now they've banned it even earlier. We will keep taking them to court until they get the message."

After Bryant signed the law, he said expected a legal challenge but was not bothered by that.

"They don't have to sue us. It's up to them," Bryant said. "If they do not believe in the sanctity of life, these that are in organizations like Planned Parenthood, we will have to fight that fight. But it is worth it."

Mississippi is one of several states where Republican leaders are considering abortion-restriction bills this year. Abortion opponents are emboldened by new conservatives on the Supreme Court and are seeking to challenge the court's 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.

The Mississippi law says a physician who performs an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected could face revocation of his or her state medical license. It also says abortions could be allowed after a fetal heartbeat is found if a pregnancy endangers a woman's life or one of her major bodily functions. The House and Senate both rejected efforts to allow exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest.

Georgia is among the states considering similar bills. Kentucky's law banning abortion after the detection of a heartbeat was immediately challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union when Republican Gov. Matt Bevin signed it on March 14, and a federal judge temporarily blocked it. A federal judge on Wednesday also blocked another Kentucky law that would ban abortion for women seeking to end their pregnancies because of the gender, race or disability of the fetus.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 27900

Reported Deaths: 1082
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds215239
DeSoto137316
Madison122234
Jones106949
Neshoba96069
Lauderdale88278
Rankin84112
Forrest81442
Scott75015
Harrison7448
Copiah56615
Leake54819
Jackson53316
Holmes52741
Wayne52112
Washington4969
Lee49316
Oktibbeha48624
Yazoo4736
Leflore47249
Lowndes45311
Warren44317
Lincoln43534
Lamar4197
Grenada3805
Monroe36729
Pike36712
Attala35223
Lafayette3524
Newton3289
Sunflower3066
Covington3025
Bolivar27713
Panola2706
Adams26718
Chickasaw25918
Tate2577
Jasper2506
Marion24811
Pontotoc2476
Noxubee2458
Pearl River24432
Winston2435
Clay24210
Claiborne23610
Simpson2303
Smith20611
Clarke20124
Marshall2013
Coahoma1866
Kemper17614
Union1759
Walthall1724
Yalobusha1617
Carroll16011
Lawrence1591
Itawamba1278
Calhoun1244
Humphreys1239
Tippah12311
Webster12310
Montgomery1222
Hancock12013
Jefferson Davis1064
Tallahatchie1043
Prentiss983
Greene927
Jefferson923
Wilkinson919
Tunica893
Amite822
George743
Choctaw714
Quitman680
Tishomingo681
Perry614
Alcorn561
Stone521
Franklin382
Benton270
Sharkey240
Issaquena71
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 39604

Reported Deaths: 961
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4387142
Montgomery383999
Mobile3697134
Tuscaloosa204938
Marshall153710
Lee118937
Shelby108223
Madison10577
Morgan9813
Walker86723
Franklin85213
Dallas8198
Elmore81314
Baldwin6869
Etowah62513
Butler60427
DeKalb6025
Chambers58127
Tallapoosa56369
Autauga54511
Unassigned52025
Russell4840
Lowndes45820
Lauderdale4446
Houston4344
Limestone4090
Cullman4003
Pike3995
Colbert3685
Bullock3629
Coffee3532
Barbour3231
Covington3087
St. Clair3042
Hale29321
Marengo28611
Wilcox2808
Sumter27612
Calhoun2705
Talladega2677
Clarke2665
Escambia2636
Dale2440
Jackson2382
Winston2333
Blount2141
Chilton2112
Pickens2116
Marion20312
Monroe1972
Choctaw19212
Conecuh1804
Bibb1711
Macon1708
Randolph1709
Greene1667
Perry1451
Henry1303
Crenshaw1233
Lawrence1010
Washington1007
Cherokee747
Lamar711
Fayette671
Geneva670
Clay582
Coosa551
Cleburne291
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