Abortion Bans in Mississippi, Florida Allowed to Take Effect Amid Efforts to Block Them

Abortion Bans in Mississippi, Florida Allowed to Take Effect Amid Efforts to Block Them
The Supreme Court building, surrounded by a temporary security fence, in Washington, on June 22, 2022. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Bans on abortions in Mississippi and Florida are taking effect this week in spite of efforts in the courts seeking to block the laws.

The news comes amid continuing legal battles in multiple U.S. states over abortion following the U.S. Supreme Court decision on June 24 that overturned Roe v. Wade and sent regulation of the procedure back to the states.

The 1973 landmark Roe decision had largely enabled abortions to be carried out for up to 24 weeks of pregnancy across the country for almost five decades.

In Mississippi, the state’s legislature had in 2007 passed a trigger law banning all abortions—except in cases where it is deemed necessary to save the life of the mother, or in cases of rape that has been reported to law enforcement. The trigger provision means it would be contingent on the overturning of Roe.

The Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the only abortion clinic in Mississippi, had asked a court to temporarily block the trigger law from going into effect on July 7. The temporary restraining order would have let the clinic remain open while litigation continues.

But Judge Debbra Halford in Jackson, Mississippi, rejected the request on July 5.

The clinic had filed the lawsuit three days after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in a case that also originated in Mississippi. In challenging the trigger law as well as a six-week abortion ban in the state, the clinic cited a 1998 ruling by the Mississippi Supreme Court and argued that the right to privacy under the state’s constitution included a right to abortion.

But Halford said it was “more than doubtful” that Mississippi’s Supreme Court would continue to uphold that decision as it rested on the U.S. Supreme Court’s own past rulings including the now-overturned Roe v. Wade.

“The plain wording of the Mississippi Constitution does not mention abortion,” Halford wrote in rejecting the clinic’s request.

fetus baby
Pregnant woman holding ultrasound picture. (Volodymyr Hryshchenko/Unsplash)

But Rob McDuff, a Mississippi Center for Justice lawyer representing the clinic, argued that Mississippi justices never said their ruling was made because of the federal Constitution.

“They never said it would evaporate if Roe was ever overruled,” McDuff said in court on July 5.

He called Halford’s ruling disappointing and said the clinic’s lawyers were considering their options.

Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, said in a statement after the judge’s ruling that the trigger law “has the potential to save the lives of thousands of unborn Mississippi children.”

“It is a great victory for life. I also believe it is critical that we showcase to every mother and child that they are loved and that their communities will support them,” he added.

Florida’s 15-Week Abortion Ban Takes Effect

Separately, in Florida, the state’s 15-week abortion ban signed earlier this year that was due to take effect July 1 was temporarily blocked  by a circuit judge, John Cooper, who said that the ban was “unconstitutional.” He said the law would only take effect after he “issued a written order.”

But the ban was reinstated on July 5 after Florida’s attorney general, Ashley Moody, appealed on July 5 in a lawsuit, which automatically froze Cooper’s temporary injunction.

The “Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality Act,” also known as HB 5, has exceptions for cases when an abortion is deemed necessary to save the life of the mother, or when the fetus has a fatal abnormality. The law does not have exceptions for rape or incest.

Abortion providers had argued in challenging the abortion ban that the state’s constitution guarantees a right to the procedure. Cooper in his order sided with them, saying the abortion ban violated the constitution, which grants a right to privacy, which includes a right to abortion.

Following the reinstatement of the 15-week abortion ban, lawyers for the abortion providers in Florida at the ACLU and Center for Reproductive Rights are vowing to seek reinstatement of the injunction and to get the 15-week ban “blocked for good.”

Florida has long been a destination for women across the Southeast seeking to end pregnancies in their second trimester as neighboring states have strict abortion limits. Previously, Florida permitted abortion up to 24 weeks.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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