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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Judge Won’t Stop Most Mississippi Abortion Banning Law

Judge Won'T Stop Most Mississippi Abortion Banning Law

By Emily Wagster Petas, Anthony Izaguirre and Kevin McGill

JACKSON, Miss. ( Associated Press) — As lawyers argued Tuesday about abortion laws across the South, a Mississippi judge rejected a request by the state’s only abortion clinic to temporarily block a law that Most would ban abortion.

Without other incidents in the Mississippi lawsuit, the clinic will close at business end on Wednesday and state law will take effect Thursday.

One of the clinic’s lawyers, Hilary Schneller of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said the judge should have blocked the law.

“People in Mississippi who need an abortion right now are in a panic, trying to go to the clinic before it’s too late,” Schneller said. “No one should be forced to live in fear like this.”

Mississippi legislators passed the “trigger” law before the U.S. Supreme Court recently overturned a 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion nationwide. The clinic, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, sought a temporary restraining order that would have allowed it to remain open during the trial in court.

The closely watched trial was part of a flurry of activity nationwide since the Supreme Court ruling. Conservative states have moved to prevent or limit abortion, while others have sought to ensure abortion rights, as some women try to obtain a medical procedure against the changing legal landscape.

Elsewhere in the South, Florida’s new 15-week abortion ban was blocked but quickly reinstated on Tuesday following an appeal from the state attorney general in a lawsuit challenging the ban. Judge John C. Cooper issued the order temporarily halting the law after reproductive health providers argued that the state’s constitution guarantees the right to procedure. The state immediately appealed his order, automatically putting the law back into effect.

Florida law makes an exception if the procedure is necessary to save a pregnant woman’s life, prevent serious injury, or prevent a fatal fetal abnormality. It does not allow exemptions for pregnancies caused by rape, incest or human trafficking.

The legislation, which took effect Friday, was passed by the GOP-controlled legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis this spring.

In Louisiana, the state attorney general has asked the state’s Supreme Court to allow a ban on most abortions. Louisiana’s anti-abortion statutes include so-called triggers that were designed by the US Supreme Court to take effect immediately if abortion rights are reversed. But last week a state judge in New Orleans blocked enforcement of the law pending a court hearing on a lawsuit filed by a northern Louisiana abortion clinic and others.

The Louisiana lawsuit states when the ban takes effect and the law on medical exceptions to the ban is unclear. Tuesday’s filing by the attorney general’s office said the blocking order should be dissolved.

Mississippi was one of several states that had a trigger law party on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. The law passed in 2007 and has never been challenged in court. It states that abortion will be legal only if there is a threat to the life of the pregnant woman or the pregnancy resulted from rape reported to law enforcement. This is no exception for pregnancies caused by incest.

The clinic’s lawsuit cited a 1998 Mississippi Supreme Court decision that held that the state’s constitution invokes a right to privacy that “includes an implied right to or not to have an abortion.”

The state attorney general’s office argued that the 1998 ruling was rooted in U.S. Supreme Court decisions in 1973 and 1992 establishing or protecting abortion rights, but was reversed on June 24. But Mississippi Center for Justice attorney Rob McDuff, representing the clinic, argued that state judges never said their decision was made because of the federal constitution.

“He never said that if Roe was ever dismissed, it would vanish,” Macduff said in court on Tuesday.

The state attorney general’s office said the Mississippi Constitution does not recognize the right to abortion and that the state has a long history of restricting the procedure.

“Over the past two weeks, the state of the law has changed dramatically,” state Solicitor General Scott Stewart argued in court on Tuesday.

The suit was filed three days after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in a case that originated in Mississippi. The clinic had continued to see patients, but owner Diane Derzis said it would close if the abortion ban took effect.

Rejecting the clinic’s request on Tuesday, Chancery Judge Debabra K. “The Mississippi Constitution simply does not mention abortion,” Halford wrote. He said it is “more than doubtful” that the Mississippi Supreme Court will continue to uphold its 1998 decision now that the US Supreme Court has reversed its previous abortion rulings.

McDuff told the Associated Press that attorneys for the clinic will review Halford’s decision and consider whether to appeal it to the state’s Supreme Court.

Outside the courthouse in Mississippi’s capital city on Tuesday, several women held signs supporting abortion rights, while two men used a microphone to tell abortion rights supporters that God would punish them for eternity .

“You are bloodthirsty. Bloodthirsty, abominable filth in the sight of God,” said Alan Siders, one of the anti-abortion protesters. “O sinners, consider your ways today. Consider your ways today. You should be ashamed “

An abortion-rights supporter performed an improvised dance in front of ciders to mock her, and many women laughed.


Anthony Izaguire reported from Tallahassee, Florida, and Kevin McGill from New Orleans.

World Nation News Desk
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