The state of Mississippi is being sued by the state’s only remaining abortion clinic after the Governor signed a bill preventing the procedure after 15 weeks – the most restrictive ban in the nation.
The owner of the Jackson Women’s Health Organization claims the law is unconstitutional on the grounds that it bans abortion weeks before a fetus can survive outside the womb. Before issuing a temporary restraining order, U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves presided over the hearing and stated that the main question in this case will be “Does the state have the right to trump the woman’s right to have control over her decisions, over her body?”, this according to Fox News.
The question of viability will also be a focus in this argument, and Judges Reeves said that if there is no viability, the state would not be able to prevent the abortion. Language in the recently passed bill outlines the development of the “unborn person”. It states that the heart begins to beat at 5-6 weeks, all physiological functions are present at 9 weeks, and the section ends with research about the fetus at 12 weeks.
“At twelve (12) weeks’ gestation, an unborn human being can open and close his or her fingers, starts to make sucking motions, and senses stimulation from the world outside the womb. Importantly, he or she has taken on “the human form” in all relevant aspects. Gonzales v. Carhart, 550 U.S. 124, 160 (2007).”
The legislation also lists health risks for women who chose to get an abortion, and states that the risks increase after 15 weeks.
In abortions performed after fifteen (15) weeks’ gestation, there is a higher risk of requiring a hysterectomy, other reparative surgery, or blood transfusion.”
In court, lawyers for the clinic stated that a woman who has passed the 15 week point was scheduled to have an abortion today, and the next available appointment is March 28th. This would put her past the clinic’s 16-week limit.
Roe v. Wade determined the right to get an abortion, but left room for interpretation when it came to the ability of individual states to mandate their own rules with the balance of protecting women’s rights and the rights of the unborn child. Mississippi’s ban was 20 weeks, and this new law aims to bring it down to 15-weeks. Governor Bryant has stated that this law will help protect unborn children like no other place.
“I want Mississippi to be the safest place in America for an unborn child. House Bill 1510 will help us achieve that goal,” Governor Bryant said.
The Governor has also stated that he hopes Mississippi is free of all abortions before he leaves office.
Depending on the outcome of this lawsuit, the bill would become law on July 1st.