A federal judge struck down a scary abortion ban in Mississippi—here’s what you should know
It’s no secret that there’s been a top-down assault on reproductive rights these last several years, with several states attempting to impose strict regulations on abortion access. But in some (thankfully) good news, a federal judge has ruled against a Mississippi abortion law that would ban the procedure after 15 weeks into pregnancy.
According to CNN, the Mississippi House of Representatives passed the ban in March, when it was known as House Bill 1510. The bill then headed to Governor Phil Bryant, who declared his support for it by saying that he wanted Mississippi to be “the safest place for an unborn child.” The Associated Press notes that in addition to banning abortion after the first 15 weeks of pregnancy, H.B. 1510 made no exceptions in cases of rape or incest, although it permitted abortion if the mother’s life was at risk.
In a ruling issued on November 20th, District Judge Carlton Reeves permanently blocked the ban from taking effect. Reeves concluded in his decision that H.B. 1510 “unequivocally” infringes on pregnant citizens’ rights to due process. He noted that it’s illegal for states to outlaw abortion before a pregnancy is viable, and concluded that since fetuses cannot survive outside the womb at 15 weeks, the law was unconstitutional. false
Reeves noted that state lawmakers claimed the law was only passed to protect the health of women, but he argued that this was simply false.
"The Mississippi Legislature's professed interest in 'women's health' is pure gaslighting," Reeves wrote in the decision. "Its leaders are proud to challenge Roe but choose not to lift a finger to address the tragedies lurking on the other side of the delivery room: our alarming infant and maternal mortality rate."
According to Reuters, Reeves’ decision also blocks a similar ban in Louisiana, which would have taken effect if the Mississippi ban was determined constitutional. NPR notes that Reeves’ ruling was the result of a lawsuit filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of Jackson Women’s Health Organization—Mississippi’s only abortion clinic. Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, celebrated the ruling in a news statement.
"Our victory today means that women in Mississippi will maintain the ability to make their own decisions about whether and when to terminate a pregnancy," her statement read. "Today's decision should be a wake-up call for state lawmakers who are continuously trying to chip away at abortion access. Such bans will not stand in a court of law."
It’s encouraging to know that even as reproductive rights continue to be challenged, there are those willing to stand up for our basic—and critical—rights.