Abortion fight

Federal judge temporarily blocks nation’s most restrictive state abortion law

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed the Gestational Age Act into law on Monday, March 19, 2018. (Twitter)

A federal judge in Mississippi on Tuesday ruled to temporarily block the state’s brand new law banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, which had just been signed by the governor a day before. U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves ruled in favor of the temporary restraining order after The Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the state’s only abortion clinic, sued to have the law struck down.

According to Dr. Sacheen Carr-Ellis of the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a woman who was 15 weeks pregnant was scheduled to undergo an abortion on Tuesday, a day after the law abruptly went into effect. Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant on Monday signed House Bill 1510 into law thereby prohibiting women in his state from undergoing an abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy and making it, by far, the most restrictive state abortion law in the nation. But the signing of the new law drew a swift legal challenge.

The law, which is referred to as the Gestational Age Act, allows for exceptions in cases of medical emergencies or in situations where doctors discover a “severe fetal abnormality,” but the new law makes no exemptions for cases of rape or incest. Bryant on Tuesday heralded the signing of the bill in a post on Twitter, saying, that he “was proud to sign House Bill 1510 this afternoon. I am committed to making Mississippi the safest place in America for an unborn child, and this bill will help us achieve that goal.” His lieutenant governor, Tate Reeves, also hailed the occasion as ‘a great day for Mississippi” in a post on Twitter.

But reproductive rights advocates don’t see anything “great” about the new law, a phenomenon Bryant as acutely aware of. “We’ll probably be sued in about half an hour,” he remarked as supporters watched him sign the bill. “That’ll be fine with me. It’ll be worth fighting over.”

And the fight went to U.S. district court on Tuesday morning after The Jackson Women’s Health Organization sued the state arguing that the new law is unconstitutional and should be blocked. The lawsuit is being handled by the Center of Reproductive Rights. Over the last year, Jackson Women’s Health Organization said in the lawsuit, it performed 78 abortions for women who were beyond 15 weeks pregnant, of about 2,500 abortions throughout the state.

Read the full story at CNN and The Associated Press.

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