Judge temporarily blocks MS law banning abortion at 15 weeks

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Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant moved one step closer to his goal to end abortion in the Magnolia State when he signed the nation's most restrictive anti-choice bill on Monday, which outlaws the procedure after 15 weeks of gestation.

Louisiana legislators may soon consider a proposal that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, following in the footsteps of MS lawmakers, who on Monday (March 19) signed a similar bill into law.

MS is among a small handful of states with only one remaining clinic that provides abortion services: in this case, Jackson Women's Health Organization. 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.

Bryant says the law is created to "make MS the safest place in America for an unborn child".

A legal challenge could set up a supreme court showdown over the 45-year-old landmark Roe v Wade case that legalized abortion in the U.S. in 1973. "The law threatens immediate, irreparable harm to Mississippians" abilities to control their "destiny and ... body, '" Reeves wrote, citing Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt.

Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider, panned the law as "unconstitutional".

In papers filed earlier Monday evening, the Jackson Women's Health Organization and a physician who practices there stated that a woman who is 15 weeks or more pregnant is scheduled to have an abortion Tuesday afternoon. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of MS and listed both the Jackson Women's Health Organization and the abortion provider's resident physician, Dr. Sacheen Carr-Ellis, as plaintiffs.

The case was brought by the Jackson Women's Health Organization, the only remaining abortion clinic in MS, and Dr. Sacheen Carr-Ellis, who practices there.

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Paul Barnes, a special assistant to the attorney general, said that as gestational age increases so does the risk to women.

In a telephone interview late on Monday, Diane Derzis, the owner of the clinic, said that a young woman whose pregnancy was beyond the 15-week limit was scheduled for an abortion on Tuesday.

A federal judge has heard arguments from attorneys seeking and opposing an order that would temporarily block a new MS law banning abortions after 15 weeks' gestation.

If approved, it is unclear how Louisiana's 15-week abortion ban would hold up in court.

The law's only exceptions are if a fetus has health problems making it "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 pregnancy.

The Mississippi clinic performed 78 abortions in 2017 when the fetus was identified as being 15 weeks or older, the lawsuit says. Pregnancies resulting from rape and incest are not exempted.

The law also requires doctors who perform abortions after 15 weeks to submit reports detailing the circumstances of each case.