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. On March 19 he signed into law the country's most restrictive abortion ban, prohibiting abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves late Monday evening set a Tuesday morning hearing to consider the request for a temporary restraining order by the state's only abortion clinic. A federal judge on Tuesday (March 20) approved a temporary restraining order halting the MS bill banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy from going into effect.
Next, Reeves said the court will proceed with an expedited briefing schedule to determine whether to issue a preliminary injunction, which would put the law on an indefinite hold until the court issues a final ruling on its constitutionality. Echoing a phrase Bryant often uses, Reeves added that he is committed to making the state "the safest place in America for an unborn child".
"We'll probably be sued in about half an hour", Bryant said to laughter from supporters as he signed the bill.
Cincinnati.com pointed out that the bill is unlikely to pass. OH governor John Kasich previously vetoed a bill that would have banned abortions after a fetus's heartbeat could be detected, which could be as early as six weeks.
Reeves said in court that the "ultimate question" is whether a state can ban abortion before viability.
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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The Supreme Court has ruled in the past against abortion laws involving babies who could not survive outside the womb, which would include the MS ban. The Jackson Women's Health Organization, along with a physician who works for the clinic, immediately sued in federal court over the measure, claiming it is unconstitutional.
The afternoon the bill was signed, a member of the 40 Days for Life prayer team stood at the entrance to Jackson Women's Health Organization. Republican Gov. Phil Bryant signed House Bill 1510 on Monday, and it became law immediately.
He also argued that gestational age emboldens the state's interest in "protecting unborn life". "It is in states like MS where the greatest progress toward righting it is being made", she added. "This is especially true for one woman scheduled to have a 15-week abortion this afternoon".
Mississippi's governor has signed the nation's tightest abortion restrictions into law.
Reeves did not rule from the bench but said he would rule as soon as possible. As recently as 2011, there were seven abortion providers in Louisiana, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion rights group that tracks state laws and abortion providers nationwide. "Courts have consistently struck down similar bans on abortion before viability as unconstitutional", the center said in a statement. There are only two exceptions to the ban: if an unborn child has health problems that would make him or her "incompatible with life" outside of the womb at full term, or if a pregnant woman's life or a "major bodily function" is threatened by continuing the pregnancy.
The law does not exempt pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.