/Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban again struck down; supporters hope Supreme Court is ‘ultimate arbiter’

Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban again struck down; supporters hope Supreme Court is ‘ultimate arbiter’

The 2018 legislative session passed the bill that would have prevented a woman from having an abortion after her 15th weeks of pregnancy. Even though the Mississippi clinic that performs abortions cannot do so after 16 weeks, Mississippi women are legally allowed to have an abortion up until their 20th week. Judge Patrick Higginbotham stated in his majority opinion that banning abortion after 15 weeks is against Supreme Court precedent. This has repeatedly ruled that a woman’s right to choose over fetal viability (usually 23 weeks). “In an unbroken chain dating back to Roe v. Wade the Supreme Court’s abortion cases has established (and affirmed and reaffirmed) a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion before she is viable. Higginbotham stated that states may regulate abortion procedures before viability, provided they don’t impose an undue hardship on the woman’s rights. However, they cannot ban abortions. Judge Carlton Reeves of the U.S. District Court had already ruled against this law before the state appealed. Judge James Ho agreed with the ruling but criticised Reeves’ order. Ho expressed concern at Reeves’ handling the case. Ho stated that the opinion of the district court showed an alarming disregard for millions of Americans who believe babies should be protected during and after pregnancy. He also said that abortion is the moral, tragic, or violent taking of innocent life. Ho also criticized Reeves’ description of the ban being sexisted and racist. He said that Reeves failed to recognize that many women oppose abortion, as well as the fact that “the racial historical of abortion advocacy as an instrument of the eugenics Movement” – eugenics is the belief that human genetics could be improved by the use of reproductive controls. Similar claims have been made by supporters of Mississippi’s ban on abortion access. Gov. Phil Bryant last summer cited an unsubstantiated claim regarding the effect of abortion on the African American community. The decision was not surprising, even though it disappointed supporters of the ban on abortion. Senator Joey Fillingane (R-Sumrall), who wrote the legislation and steered it through the state Senate said that the 5th U.S. Circuit is effectively bound until the Supreme Court decides on viability. “Individual judges may feel the need to decide in a different direction, but they are bound under Supreme Court precedent. Fillingane stated that regardless of their rulings, the Supreme Court is the final arbiter of all these issues. Fillingane stated that he hoped the state would appeal the decision so the Supreme Court could weigh the constitutionality. This ruling will also cast doubt on the future of another Mississippi law. Bryant, during the 2019 legislative session signed a more restrictive abortion ban into law. This prohibits a woman from having an abortion as soon a fetal beat can be detected. In many cases, this could be as early as five to six weeks. Critics have called it a ban on all abortions because many women don’t realize they are pregnant until six weeks after the fact. The Center for Reproductive Rights, who had opposed the ban in October before the 5th Circuit, tweeted that the law was “blatantly unconstitutional”. They should not waste taxpayer money to defend multiple abortion bans which won’t stand in court. Instead, they should be working to address other issues, such as addressing the state’s alarming maternal death rates,” the Center stated, attribution of the statement to attorney Hillary Schneller. To support this work, you can make a regular donation to the Center today as part of our Spring Member Drive. This will allow us to continue important work such as this one.