Lawyers: Mississippi making abortion 'virtually unavailable'

MGN Online

A Mississippi law banning most abortions starting at about six weeks of pregnancy is unconstitutional and will make the procedure "virtually unavailable" in the state, reproductive rights attorneys say.

Posted: Apr 26, 2019 7:03 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi law banning most abortions starting at about six weeks of pregnancy is unconstitutional and will make the procedure "virtually unavailable" in the state, reproductive rights attorneys say.

In a court filing Thursday, the attorneys gave detailed arguments about why they want a federal judge to block the law from taking effect July 1.

State attorneys wrote last week that Mississippi has an interest in preserving fetal life "from the moment of conception."

The Center for Reproductive Rights and the Mississippi Center for Justice are representing Mississippi's only abortion clinic. They sued the state in March after Republican Gov. Phil Bryant signed a law banning most abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, about six weeks into pregnancy.

It is one of the strictest abortion laws in the U.S.

"If the ban takes effect, abortion care will be virtually unavailable in Mississippi," attorneys Aaron Delaney and Robert McDuff wrote on behalf of the clinic.

Abortion opponents are pushing for new restrictions in several states this year. They are emboldened by new conservative justices on the Supreme Court and are hoping federal courts will uphold laws that prohibit abortions before a fetus is viable outside the womb, the dividing line the high court set in its 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.

In 2018, Mississippi enacted a law to ban abortions after 15 weeks, and U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves struck it down, writing that it "unequivocally" violates women's constitutional rights. Reeves is also presiding over the current challenge to the six-week ban. He is scheduled to hear oral arguments May 21 on the clinic's request to block the new law from taking effect.

The office of Mississippi Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood wrote last week that the new law does not ban all abortions but limits when they would be legal: "As such, it is akin to laws regulating the time, place, or manner of speech, which have been upheld as constitutional."

The clinic's attorneys wrote in response: "Labeling the 6 Week Ban a 'time limitation' is ... not only nonsensical, but also misperceives the core of the right protected by the Constitution, which is the right of each woman, throughout the entire period of her pre-viability pregnancy, to decide for herself whether she will continue her pregnancy."

The new Mississippi law says physicians who perform abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected could face revocation of their state medical licenses. 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. Legislators rejected efforts to allow exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 63444

Reported Deaths: 1804
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5329110
DeSoto338727
Madison232460
Harrison222833
Rankin216830
Jackson206338
Jones180457
Forrest165353
Washington152433
Lauderdale135488
Lee127430
Neshoba123288
Lamar114613
Oktibbeha106036
Lowndes99932
Bolivar98732
Warren97630
Scott96219
Panola93611
Sunflower92623
Copiah92426
Lafayette88512
Leflore86660
Holmes85148
Pike84632
Grenada81621
Yazoo79311
Leake77125
Lincoln75641
Pontotoc7527
Wayne73621
Simpson72328
Monroe71650
Coahoma67710
Tate66524
Marion62519
Covington60112
Adams58725
Marshall5858
Winston58415
George5495
Union53814
Newton52611
Attala50224
Pearl River49637
Tallahatchie49610
Walthall46318
Chickasaw44319
Noxubee42611
Claiborne40113
Jasper3859
Smith38513
Calhoun3819
Clay37413
Alcorn3634
Prentiss3516
Hancock34414
Tishomingo3394
Itawamba31710
Tippah31612
Lawrence3155
Yalobusha31310
Clarke31025
Montgomery2973
Tunica2926
Humphreys27411
Carroll24811
Quitman2331
Greene23211
Kemper22715
Perry2267
Jefferson Davis2146
Amite2116
Webster20112
Jefferson1936
Wilkinson18813
Sharkey1831
Stone1593
Benton1300
Choctaw1294
Franklin1172
Issaquena211
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 91776

Reported Deaths: 1639
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson12039228
Mobile9170197
Montgomery6305147
Madison508227
Tuscaloosa398466
Baldwin326323
Shelby307532
Marshall298433
Unassigned281255
Lee251940
Morgan224315
Etowah195728
DeKalb171813
Elmore162637
Calhoun159012
Walker147464
Houston132712
Dallas129423
Russell12471
St. Clair123612
Limestone120813
Franklin120620
Cullman115711
Colbert110712
Lauderdale109512
Autauga103020
Escambia97915
Talladega92713
Jackson8704
Chambers82838
Tallapoosa82278
Dale78722
Butler75135
Blount7413
Chilton7226
Coffee7165
Covington71520
Pike6607
Barbour5635
Lowndes55824
Marion54724
Marengo52614
Clarke4879
Hale45726
Bullock44111
Winston43211
Perry4314
Wilcox4089
Monroe3954
Randolph39110
Bibb3813
Conecuh37210
Pickens3719
Sumter35918
Lawrence3240
Washington31412
Macon31113
Crenshaw2973
Choctaw27612
Cherokee2477
Henry2463
Greene24511
Geneva2420
Clay2235
Lamar2032
Fayette1765
Cleburne1211
Coosa922
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