/Mississippi’s only abortion clinic asks Supreme Court to decline 15-week ban case

Mississippi’s only abortion clinic asks Supreme Court to decline 15-week ban case

“The state has requested the Supreme Court to reconsider the 5th Circuit decision strikingdown the 15-week ban. We are telling the Supreme Court that the 5th Circuit decision was correct based upon decades of precedent about previabilty bans,” Hillary Schneller, the lead attorney representing Jackson Women’s Health Organization, said Mississippi Today about the court filing. Federal courts have overturned the law twice in the past two years. This was the first abortion ban to be passed in a state. Federal courts blocked it. If the Supreme Court takes up the case, it would be the first. The Court has not yet taken up any cases that ban abortion at different stages of pregnancy. Schneller stated, “It speaks to state’s incessant attempts to ban or limit abortion and make it harder and more difficult for people to get important reproductive health care.” It’s both new and the same. It’s not a new thing that the state wants to restrict abortion. But they’re getting more aggressive about it.” Attorney General Lynn Fitch petitioned the nation’s highest court in June to hear the 15-week appeal of a 2019 lower court ruling that had blocked the unconstitutional law. After U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves had initially blocked the 2018 law shortly after its passage by the Mississippi Legislature, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals made the decision to stop it last year. Eight months later, it was permanently overturned. Despite a series of courts declaring the law unconstitutional, the Mississippi Legislature passed a stricter law in the next year. It banned abortions after six weeks of gestation. The same federal courts also blocked it. Fitch announced recently that she will appeal the new law to the Supreme Court and instead opt to use the 15-week old law. In a statement, she stated that the petition asked the Court to clarify its abortion jurisprudence to allow states such as ours to adopt laws that promote respect for unborn and innocent life. The office of the petitioner did not respond to inquiries about the case. The Supreme Court granted Louisiana’s abortion clinic permission to continue to be open in its first case with the new conservative court. This was a watchdog case for reproductive rights activists and opponents. The Center for Reproductive Rights filed a new brief last week on behalf of Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the state’s only abortion clinic. It asked the court to reject the state’s request for a hearing based on precedent. The Supreme Court typically hears cases when there are contradictory interpretations from different circuit courts or new evidence has been presented. According to the new filing, neither is the case. “Both the United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit and the District Court correctly held that this unconstitutional statute cannot be sustained. “The decision below correctly applies the precedent of this Court and does not conflict or contradict any other court’s decision,” the filing states. “Nothing in this case warrants the Court’s intervention,” reads the filing. The state claims that it misinterprets its legal role regarding abortion regulation, something both sides have debated before. Mississippi claims that its interest in “protecting unborn lives, regulating medical professions, and protecting maternal rights” should prevail over individual rights to decide whether or not they want to have an abortion. States have a vested right to regulate abortion but cannot ban it, as precedent shows. The state can regulate but not ban abortion before a pregnancy becomes viable. This is usually between 23 and 24 weeks. Mississippi argued that its 15-week-old law was not per se a prohibition and that it is necessary to revise the viability framework. This is despite the consensus among medical professionals that restricting abortion access is more dangerous that the procedure itself. According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, “legislative restrictions fundamentally interfere in the patient-provider relation and decrease access for all women and especially for low-income women and women living far from health care providers.” Judge Reeves stated that the law was a prohibition and not a regulation in the first blockade of the law. The 5th Circuit upheld that decision, saying that “prohibitions regarding pre-viability abortions…are unconstitutional regardless the State’s interest because,” quoting Planned Parenthood, the 30-year-old case which upheld Roe v. Wade, “a State may not prevent any woman from making her final decision to terminate her pregnancy prior to viability.” The three-judge panel at the 5th Circuit challenged the state attorneys’ claims that the law wasn’t a prohibition. Clinic attorneys questioned whether it was time for a reexamination of the viability question. The Circuit Court affirmed the District’s decision. However, they criticised the language that chastised Mississippi’s motives. Reeves called efforts to force unconstitutional laws through in his decision to block the 15-week law “disingenuous.” Reeves stated that the State passed a law they knew was illegal to support a decade-long campaign by national interest groups to petition the Supreme Court to repeal Roe v. Wade. The Mississippi Legislature’s declared interest in “women’s health” is pure gaslighting. . . . Although they are proud to challenge Roe, the leaders of this group refuse to take responsibility for the tragic circumstances that await them in the delivery room. Mississippi currently has the highest infant and maternal mortality rates and one of the worst maternal outcomes in the country. However, complications from abortions are very rare, especially in Mississippi, where most occur in the first trimester. They are performed medically, via pill, and are not surgically. Although complications are more likely to occur with longer gestations, Jackson Women’s Health Organization is the only clinic that performs abortions after 16 weeks. According to the most recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, more than 90% of Mississippi’s abortions were performed prior to 14 weeks and 66% were done before 9 weeks. Nearly two-thirds (or more) of all abortions in the U.S. are performed medically rather than surgically. “Mississippi already has many restrictions and over-regulations on abortion that make access difficult for anyone, especially those who are already struggling with essential health care. It becomes even more difficult when there is a crisis like the current public health crisis. Schneller, a clinic attorney, stated that. “So while it is not surprising that the state continues to fight this fight all of the way to the Supreme Court, it is disappointing that they continue to focus their efforts on this area.” Make a regular donation to support this work today to celebrate our Spring Member Drive and help us continue important work such as this one.