Governor decries temporary block on abortion law

Saying that he was "saving the unborn", governor Phil Bryant of MS signed into law on Monday a measure that would ban nearly all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The Center for Reproductive Rights and Jackson Women's Health Organization filed suit yesterday afternoon challenging the constitutionality of the law, shortly after the governor signed the bill, which took effect immediately. Today, U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves put a temporary restraining order on the law Tuesday.

Abortion rights supporters called it the earliest abortion ban in the country, and said it was an unconstitutional restriction that defied years of federal court precedent over the limits states may impose on abortion providers.

"House Bill 1510 protects maternal health and will further our efforts to make MS the safest place in America for an unborn child".

Bryant seemed to predict Tuesday's lawsuit, saying "We'll probably be sued here in about a half hour, and that'll be fine with me".

She continued, "Our nation's permissive regime of abortion on-demand at any point in pregnancy established in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton has made the United States a global outlier and does not reflect the will of most Americans - especially where late-term abortions are concerned". Gunn told the Associated Press he is proud that MS is taking steps to protect "the most vulnerable of human life"- the unborn. "There are only a few clinics left to serve patients who need abortion care even as we speak, and with HB 1510 targeting the lone remaining clinic in MS, a scarce health service will become even more so".

"Under decades of United States Supreme Court precedent, the state of MS can not ban abortion prior to viability, regardless of what exceptions are provided to the ban", the suit states. "It is in states like MS where the greatest progress toward righting it is being made", she added. It also asked the court to block the ban, a particularly urgent request because a woman was scheduled to have a 15-week abortion Tuesday afternoon.

"A brief delay in enforcing a law of dubious constitutionality does not outweigh that harm, and in fact serves the public's interest in preserving the freedom guaranteed by the United States Constitution", Reeves said in his order.

A federal judge in MS will hear arguments Tuesday over whether he should block the nation's most restrictive abortion law less than 24 hours after it took effect. Anti-abortion activists and legislatures often push restrictive new legislation with the understanding that they will face legal challenges in the hopes of taking those cases to the Supreme Court, where they could have a chance at chipping away at national abortion policy.

McDuff said the law keeps women "from making their own decisions about whether to bear children".

The law does not exempt pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.

The measure, which went into effect immediately, includes some exceptions, like if a woman's life or a "major bodily function" is threatened or if the fetus has a health problem that would mean it likely wouldn't survive outside the womb.

  • Joey Payne