WASHINGTON, D.C. (WLBT) - Federal Judge Carlton Reeves has temporarily blocked the fetal heartbeat abortion law banning abortions in the state after a fetal heartbeat is detected.
Reeves said the law “threatens immediate harm to women’s rights, especially considering most women do not seek abortion services until after six weeks.”
The law was set to take effect in July.
Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant released a statement on the ruling saying:
“I’m disappointed in the court’s ruling. As Governor I’ve pledged to do all I can to protect life. Time and time again the Legislature and I have done just that. I will encourage the Attorney General to seek immediate review of the preliminary injunction.”
The court’s decision mirrors its ruling in November 2018, in which the same court permanently blocked the state’s 15-week abortion ban.
Judge Reeves struck down the 15-week ban, saying it violated the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of reproductive autonomy. The state of Mississippi says the law protects human life.
The Center for Reproductive Rights is representing the state’s lone abortion clinic.
“The sponsors of Mississippi’s six-week ban, like those of other extreme bans across the country, are shamelessly seeking to overturn Roe v. Wade,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “We will block them at every turn. The Constitution protects a woman’s right to make decisions over her body and her life. The district court’s decision today was a resounding affirmation of this settled law.”
“Women from across Mississippi come to us for abortion care, and most of our patients are past the six-week mark,” said Shannon Brewer, director of Jackson Women’s Health Organization. “It’s important for Mississippi women to know that this law has been blocked and we are still open. Abortion is still legal in our state.”
Along with Mississippi, Georgia, Kentucky, and Ohio have passed six-week bans. Missouri has passed an eight-week ban, while Alabama has passed a total ban.
None of these bans are currently in effect.
Governor Bryant knew a repeat court case was likely on the day he signed the bill. “If they do not believe in the sanctity of life, those that are in organizations like Planned Parenthood, we will have to fight that fight,” said Bryant following the bill signing in March. “But it is worth it.”
In response to the block, Joshua Tom, legal director of the ACLU of Mississippi, had the following statement:
“After a federal court declared last year’s 15-week abortion ban unequivocally unconstitutional, the Mississippi legislature doubled down this session with the fetal heartbeat ban, which prohibited abortion as early as six weeks. Many women do not know they are pregnant at six weeks.
“It is no surprise that Mississippi legislators as well as several other state legislatures have been emboldened by President Trump, who appointed anti-abortion justices to the Supreme Court with the clear intention of overturning Roe v. Wade. The ACLU of Mississippi is thrilled that Judge Reeves’ decision to block Mississippi’s six-week ban regards the binding Supreme Court precedent.
“The decision whether to become a parent is in the hands of those who are involved. It is not the politicians’ decisions to make, nor is it within their right to take away a woman’s ‘personal dignity and autonomy’.”
Lt. Governor Tate Reeves released the following statement following the ruling.
"Our Heartbeat Bill will save lives and protect a generation of Mississippi children with beating hearts. It is no surprise that the Obama-appointed lower court Federal Judge granted this injunction, nor is it a surprise that Jim Hood couldn’t find time in his schedule to show up to defend these unborn babies. Mississippi must press on and this ruling should be appealed immediately.”