Judge Blocks New Pro-Life Mississippi Law Banning Abortions After 15 Weeks

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The owner of Mississippi's only abortion clinic, Diane Derzis, opposes the law and has pledged to sue.

Reeves did not rule from the bench but granted the temporary restraining order about an hour later, noting that clinic lawyers said a woman at least 15 weeks pregnant was scheduled to have an abortion Tuesday afternoon.

In 2016, lawmakers more than doubling the mandatory waiting period for women seeking abortions from 24 hours to 72 hours, a move that is now being challenged in court.

The Center for Reproductive Rights, a New York-based abortion rights group, said in a news release that the MS bill violated a Supreme Court precedent, established in Roe v. Wade, that states may not ban abortions before they are deemed viable outside the womb, including with "artificial aid".

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On Monday, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed into law a bill that bans all abortions after 15 weeks gestation except in the case of a medical emergency or a severe fetal abnormality.

Dr. Sacheen Carr-Ellis of the Jackson Women's Health Organization said in court papers filed Monday that a woman 15 weeks or more pregnant was scheduled for a Tuesday afternoon abortion.

District Judge Carlton Reeves issued a temporary restraining order Tuesday, blocking the law from taking effect for 10 days while the court considers further action. But Mississippi is pushing the envelope by banning abortion starting at 15 weeks.

On Monday, a federal judge temporarily blocked Mississippi's new abortion law, saying it likely will be found unconstitutional.

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In a lawsuit handled by the Center of Reproductive Rights, the Jackson Women's Health Organization says the measure is unconstitutional and should immediately be struck down. It says that it performed 78 abortions past 15 weeks in 2017, or about 3% of Mississippi's 2,500 abortions previous year. The clinic only performs the procedure through the 16th week of pregnancy.

The Institute has been particularly critical of efforts underway in the United States by various state authorities to undermine access to abortion services which, it claims put 57 percent of child-bearing age American women in states hostile or extremely hostile to abortion rights, compared to 30 percent living in states which are highly supportive.

House Speaker Philip Gunn was present for Bryant's signing. Gunn told the Associated Press he is proud that MS is taking steps to protect "the most vulnerable of human life"- the unborn. While other state legislatures have passed similar laws in the past, this is the first to be signed into law.

"A brief delay in enforcing a law of dubious constitutionality does not outweigh that harm [to the patient]", Reeves wrote in the order. "We are saving more of the unborn than any state in America, and what better thing we could do", said Bryant, a Republican serving his second term. The woman previously underwent counseling more than 24 hours in advance, as required by a longstanding MS law.

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