Federal Judge Blocks Mississippi Abortion Law

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(Unsplash)

A federal judge on Friday blocked enforcement of a new Mississippi law that bans abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

“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,” wrote Judge Carlton Reeves of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, an Obama appointee, in a preliminary injunction.

The law “threatens immediate harm to women’s rights, especially considering most women do not seek abortion services until after 6 weeks [roughly the time at which a fetal heartbeat is first detected]” Reeves wrote. “This injury outweighs any interest the state might have in banning abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat.”

Mississippi’s stringent ban does not include exceptions for cases of rape and incest, but does include an exception for cases when the life or a major bodily functions of the mother are threatened. Doctors who perform abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detectable risk having their state medical licenses revoked under the law, which was set to take effect in July.

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Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, North Dakota, and Ohio have also recently passed bills banning abortions after only a few weeks, and Alabama passed a bill prohibiting the procedure at any point except when the life of the mother is threatened, the most restrictive such ban in the nation.

Pro-life advocates hope court challenges to the unusually strict state laws will eventually reach the Supreme Court, where a new conservative majority will consider overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that legalized abortion nationwide.

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