Federal judge blocks Mississippi abortion law

A federal judge blocked a Mississippi law...

Posted: May 24, 2019 5:11 PM
Updated: May 24, 2019 8:15 PM

A federal judge blocked a Mississippi law on Friday that forbids abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.

In issuing a preliminary injunction, Judge Carlton Reeves said the law 'threatens immediate harm to women's rights, especially considering most women do not seek abortions services until after six weeks.'

RELATED: Who is Carlton Reeves, the judge who blocked Mississippi abortion law

'Allowing the law to take effect would force the clinic to stop providing most abortion care,' wrote Reeves, adding that 'by 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.'

The law was set to take effect in July.

Supporters of abortion rights argue the law collides with Supreme Court precedent, violating a woman's right to seek an abortion prior to viability.

The law is part of a new wave of restrictions introduced by Republican-led states -- emboldened by President Donald Trump -- to introduce legislation that calls into question Supreme Court precedent. The laws, none of which have gone into effect in 2019, triggered protests across the country on Tuesday, the same day Reeves heard arguments in Mississippi.

Critics worry that with the appointment of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to take the seat of swing vote retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Supreme Court might eventually move to cut back on its landmark opinion Roe V. Wade, if not gut the 1973 decision.

Reeves sits on the US District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. Abortion laws similar to Mississippi's -- which critics call 'six-week bans' and supporters refer to as 'heartbeat laws' -- have been introduced in 15 states this year and passed in four: Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio.

At the same time, Alabama passed a near total ban on abortion earlier this month that only allows exceptions to 'avoid a serious health risk to the unborn child's mother' for ectopic pregnancy and if the 'unborn child has a lethal anomaly.' The American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit Friday against Alabama's abortion law.

State officials defending the Mississippi law in court said it was passed to further the state's interest in regulating the medical profession in order to promote 'respect for life.'

They acknowledged Supreme Court precedent on viability but argued that once a fetal heartbeat is detected, 'the chances of the fetus surviving to full term are 95%-98%'

In court papers, they said the law is meant to 'prohibit procedures that destroy the life of a whole, separate, unique living human being.'

Mississippi's Assistant Attorney General Paul Barnes told Reeves in court that while the Supreme Court hadn't upheld a pre-viability ban, that doesn't mean it 'won't happen' in the future.

The law was challenged by the Center for Reproductive Rights representing the Jackson Women's Health Organization, the state's only clinic. They said the law, like similar measures in other states, is meant to be unconstitutional so that it might trigger Supreme Court review.

'Many women don't even know they are pregnant at six weeks, and even those who do will find it nearly impossible to obtain an abortion so quickly, especially in a state with just one clinic,' Hillary Schneller, a lawyer for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in an interview. In court, she argued the law was in 'defiance' of Supreme Court precedent and is 'clearly unconstitutional.'

The Center for Reproductive Rights' president and CEO, Nancy Northup, vowed in a statement released on Friday to challenge bans like Mississippi's '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,' Northup said.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 926604

Reported Deaths: 15083
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1262201958
Lake626901087
Allen52772747
Hamilton43283445
St. Joseph41475584
Elkhart33129488
Vanderburgh29927439
Tippecanoe26589247
Johnson23267415
Hendricks21902340
Porter21473341
Clark17150224
Madison17065379
Vigo15815273
Monroe14298190
LaPorte14108237
Delaware13771219
Howard13635262
Kosciusko11232134
Hancock10637160
Warrick10523176
Bartholomew10341167
Floyd10200202
Wayne9690218
Grant8939196
Morgan8734158
Boone8299109
Dubois7596123
Henry7469128
Dearborn745187
Noble7294101
Marshall7237128
Cass7097117
Lawrence6862150
Shelby6457107
Jackson643981
Gibson6036106
Harrison595585
Huntington591891
Montgomery5706102
DeKalb563591
Knox537599
Miami531983
Clinton527164
Putnam525367
Whitley516251
Steuben486367
Wabash477492
Jasper471961
Jefferson461991
Ripley444175
Adams439365
Daviess4064106
Scott394963
White386257
Clay382356
Greene380189
Wells379683
Decatur379595
Fayette367176
Posey354941
Jennings346356
Washington325847
LaGrange315774
Spencer313034
Fountain309753
Randolph305487
Sullivan299447
Owen279161
Starke272761
Orange272659
Fulton268851
Jay250634
Perry247451
Carroll241127
Franklin233637
Vermillion229750
Rush228930
Parke215220
Tipton206754
Pike202538
Blackford165634
Pulaski158751
Crawford142818
Newton140742
Benton139816
Brown132646
Martin126916
Switzerland123510
Warren113416
Union93511
Ohio77211
Unassigned0468

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1342777

Reported Deaths: 21471
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1502191556
Cuyahoga1327732318
Hamilton962791318
Montgomery659161136
Summit555141045
Lucas50248862
Butler46732653
Stark40741974
Lorain31004529
Warren29609328
Mahoning26462637
Clermont25206287
Lake24339416
Delaware22014143
Licking20180241
Fairfield20139221
Greene19955268
Trumbull19500508
Medina19478286
Clark17565325
Richland15949231
Portage15851228
Wood15438208
Allen13875256
Miami13549249
Muskingum12261149
Wayne11647237
Columbiana11344239
Tuscarawas10657265
Marion10509148
Pickaway10301128
Scioto10082126
Erie9618171
Ross9209174
Lawrence8516116
Hancock8298141
Ashtabula8180185
Geauga8066155
Belmont7966184
Jefferson7324168
Huron7253127
Union717849
Washington7037119
Athens681064
Sandusky6734133
Darke6559136
Knox6475121
Seneca6237137
Ashland5808112
Auglaize580488
Shelby5654101
Mercer552190
Brown551068
Defiance5361100
Madison535170
Crawford5299114
Highland527581
Fulton520082
Clinton515980
Logan503182
Preble4902110
Putnam4778106
Guernsey454661
Williams448281
Champaign436264
Perry432152
Ottawa431184
Jackson413260
Pike378941
Morrow369150
Fayette367652
Coshocton359466
Hardin350069
Adams348069
Gallia338054
Holmes3197108
Henry318868
Van Wert307170
Hocking291669
Wyandot276158
Carroll256752
Paulding236442
Meigs205242
Monroe185049
Noble164840
Morgan159228
Harrison151940
Vinton133918
Unassigned05
Fort Wayne
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 65°
Angola
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 66°
Huntington
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 64°
Decatur
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 65°
Van Wert
Partly Cloudy
66° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 66°
Sunday is shaping up to be another beautiful day.
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events