A U.S. District judge blocked Mississippi’s newest abortion law on Friday, which aimed to ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually at about six weeks gestation.
The Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit to challenge the heartbeat abortion ban in Mississippi, and Judge Carlton Reeves, an Obama appointee, tagged that lawsuit on to an already pending lawsuit against the state’s 15-week abortion ban. The heartbeat law was set to go into effect on July 1.
Opponents call both abortion bans unconstitutional, but Governor Phil Bryant said he is disappointed in the judge’s ruling, and that he will do everything in his power to protect the lives of preborn human beings.
“As Governor, I’ve pledged to do all I can to protect life,” he said. “Time and time again the Legislature and I have done just that. I will encourage the Attorney General to seek immediate review of the preliminary injunction.”
Reeves said the ban on abortion at six weeks “smacks of defiance to this court” since he had already blocked the 15-week abortion ban last year. “Doesn’t it boil down to six is less than 15?” he said during the hearing on Tuesday. The state is currently appealing the 15-week ruling.
Louisiana lawmakers are set to vote on a similar heartbeat bill on Tuesday, but since the two states are both under the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the fate of Louisiana’s bill rests in that of Mississippi’s. It can not take effect unless and until the Mississippi bill is upheld in court.
“The enforcement of Louisiana’s Heartbeat bill, if passed, would be contingent on the outcome of the federal court case centered on the Mississippi Heartbeat bill,” said Benjamin Clapper, the executive director of Louisiana Right to Life in a written statement. “We will continue to watch the case as it makes its progress through the federal courts.”
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (D) has said he will sign the Heartbeat bill, saying, “It’s consistent with my unblemished pro-life record in my years as a legislator and governor.”
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