Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said this week that he will appeal the decision of a Mississippi federal judge to block the state’s ban against abortions after 15-weeks of pregnancy. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will now hear the 15-week ban. Circuit Court of Appeals – the same court that ruled neighboring Louisiana couldn’t prohibit Medicaid reimbursements for Planned Parenthood. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that decision last week and nullified a Mississippi similar law. The court fights are a setback to conservative policymakers who want Mississippi to be free from abortion. They also come at a high cost to taxpayers. The state has successfully defended three cases relating to abortion through federal courts. These lawsuits are based on bills passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Phil Bryant signed the law. Hood’s office spent $225,000.940 on legal defense. These measures were blocked by the courts. The sum was calculated by adding the hours the attorneys spent on each case to the $65 per-hour rate by the attorney general. Hood, a Democrat running for governor said he defends laws because it is his duty as the top lawyer in the state. “Three to four federal circuit courts have ruled 20 weeks was too short of a time limit. Hood said Tuesday that the Fifth Circuit has yet to rule and that it is a more conservative court than circuit courts. Therefore, it owes it to the Legislature. Taxpayers could be responsible for paying more than $1million for attorneys’ fees in Mississippi cases that were lost. This is in addition to the effort made by the state’s lawyers. The Legislature passed a 2012 law that required doctors who perform abortions to become OB-GYNs. In 2012, the Center for Reproductive Rights sued Jackson Women’s Health Organization, one of its doctors, and Dr. Willie Parker. They claimed that the regulations were unnecessary and an attempt at closing down the state’s last abortion clinic. The regulations were quickly stopped by a federal judge. It took six years for the case to reach its culmination. The Supreme Court denied a petition to hear it. This was in addition to upholding the original district court decision which blocked the admitting privileges section, but upholding the OB/GYN requirement. Mississippi spent nearly 2,700 hours on cases that involved regulations relating to the state’s only abortion clinic. Hood’s office estimates that it cost $175,000. The Center for Reproductive Rights also requested $1.1 million in attorney fees for the 2012 case. This request is still pending. The Legislature passed SB 2238 four years after the admitting privileges bill was passed. This stopped Planned Parenthood, an operator of a clinic that doesn’t perform abortions, from receiving Medicaid reimbursements. Planned Parenthood Southeast sued the Memphis branch of the organization and won in federal court. Mississippi’s Planned Parenthood law is still blocked by a federal appeals court decision that overturned a Louisiana-based similar measure. Hood’s office claims that the state spent $2,500 on the Planned Parenthood matter — more than twice the amount the state reimbursed the provider in 2015 (the year before the Legislature passed it). In March, the Legislature passed a bill prohibiting abortions after 15 weeks. According to the attorney general’s offices, this bill required 737 hours of attorney time and cost $47.905. Felicia Brown-Williams (state director for Planned Parenthood Southeast), stated that it was evident from the beginning that the court precedent was on her side. She was speaking about the attempt to defund her group. “The fact that every single case has gone our way in this matter’s history did not affect the state Legislature,” Felicia Brown-Williams, state director for Planned Parenthood Southeast said. Mississippi lawmakers will likely not be stopped by court rulings in abortion cases. Republican Governor. Republican Gov. Bryant joked that he would be sued in about half an hour after the ceremonial signing of the 15 week abortion ban. It’s worth fighting for.” Bryant did not return phone calls or emails regarding this story. Judge Carlton W. Reeves questioned the motivations of the Legislature in his decision to repeal the 15-week abortion ban. He noted that the “litigation cost the taxpayers a tremendous amount” and wrote: “The State makes a deliberate effort at overturning Roe and establish constitutional precedent. The recent changes to the Supreme Court membership may indicate that the State believes that divine providence covered the Capitol’s passage of this legislation. We will see. His decision states that if the State wants to overturn Roe, it will need to seek relief from a higher court. “Its leaders are proud of challenging Roe, but they choose not to address the tragedies lurking at the other side of a delivery room: Our alarming infant mortality rates and maternal mortality rates.” Joey Fillingane (R-Sumrall) sponsored the bill to stop payments to Planned Parenthood. He believes that the Supreme Court refused to review the cases of defunding because the majority of its conservative justices might prefer stronger cases to determine the constitutionality Roe v. Wade. Fillingane stated that “I believe that we, along with a few other states… have been among the most active state legislatures in advancing and protecting the rights of unborn life in our country.” We have done our part, but now we wait for the court’s opinion. “I think it will eventually be an issue the Supreme Court will need to address, but they clearly aren’t going to do this one year.” The 15-week Mississippi bill will now be analyzed by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. This court is one step ahead of the U.S. Supreme Court. In April, Jackson clinic’s attorneys, The Center for Reproductive Rights amended the case to challenge other abortion regulations, including a 24-hour waiting period, physician only requirement, and telemedicine ban. These restrictions are invalidated by the Supreme Court’s 2016 decision Whole Woman’s Health in Hellerstedt. This ruling states that abortions can be performed only by women who have consented to it. The amended case is currently in discovery. A trial is tentatively set for December 2020. To support this important work, you can make a regular donation to the Spring Member Drive today.