A win for women: Federal judge strikes down Mississippi abortion ban

"Banning abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, the law prevents a woman's free choice, which is central to personal dignity and autonomy."

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In the latest decision from the string of anti-abortion laws conservative lawmakers are trying to push throughout the nation, a federal court has blocked a Mississippi law that would ban abortions as early as six weeks after a woman’s last period.

Late last year, U.S. Judge Carlton Reeves ruled against a similar proposed law in Mississippi that would ban abortions as early as 15 weeks. Saying that the newest, more extreme, proposal “smacks of defiance to this court,” Judge Reeves says that the law “threatens immediate harm to women’s rights, especially considering most women do not seek abortions services until after six weeks.”

In the brief written opinion, which starts “Here we go again,” Judge Reeves doesn’t hide his anger and frustration at the state’s apparent defiance:

This Court previously found the 15-week ban to be an unconstitutional violation of substantive due process because the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that women have the right to choose an abortion prior to viability, and a fetus is not viable at 15 weeks lmp. If a fetus is not viable at 15 weeks lmp, it is not viable at 6 weeks lmp. The State conceded this point. The State also conceded at oral argument that this Court must follow Supreme Court precedent. Under Supreme Court precedent, plaintiffs are substantially likely to succeed on the merits of this claim.

Reeves also points out the lack of exception for rape, “So a child who is raped at 10 or 11 years old, that child does not open their mouth, doesn’t tell their parents, the rapist may be in their home, nobody discovers until it’s too late—that is a fetal heartbeat has been detected—that child must bring the fetus to term under this statute, if the fetal heartbeat can be detected.”

Women across the country are praising the decision, after a string of losses in other states such as Alabama and Georgia, both of which signed into law near-total abortion bans. The recent string of anti-choice measures have been revealed as an attempt to get a case in front of the Supreme Court, which could result in a challenge to the landmark Roe v. Wade case that granted women the right to choose to have an abortion.

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