Wednesday, November 21, 2018

U.S. Judge Strikes Down Mississippi Law that Bans Abortion After 15 Weeks

NPR (Nov. 21, 2018): U.S. Judge Strikes Down Mississippi Law That Bans Abortion After 15 Weeks, by Emily Sullivan,

A district court judge permanently enjoined a Mississippi law that would ban abortion after 15 weeks with exceptions for medical emergencies and severe fetal abnormalities.  Although the state tried to argue that the law did not impose an undue burden, the court recognized that the law was a ban and not a regulation and emphasized that, "[t]he record is clear: States may not ban abortions prior to viability; 15 weeks [since a woman's last menstrual period] is prior to viability."

The decision also invalidates a 15-week ban in Louisiana, which would only go into effect if the Mississippi law survived court challenge.

Judge Carlton Reeves expressed some frustration with the Mississippi legislature for passing a law that was so clearly unconstitutional. 

"The State chose to pass a law it knew was unconstitutional to endorse a decades-long campaign, fueled by national interest groups, to ask the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade," Reeves wrote. "This Court follows the commands of the Supreme Court and the dictates of the United States Constitution, rather than the disingenuous calculations of the Mississippi Legislature."

He also expressed skepticism about the legislature's purported interest in women's health when the legislature has failed to do anything to address the state's "alarming infant and maternal mortality rate."

If Mississippi decides to continue its challenge to Roe v. Wade, the next stop will be the Fifth Circuit.

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