A federal appeals court judge ruled Friday that Mississippi’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy is unconstitutional. Now, supporters are looking to take the fight to higher ground: the United States Supreme Court.
The ban was signed into law by outgoing Governor Phil Bryant (a Republican who is being succeeded in office by another pro-life Republican) after it was passed by the state legislature in 2018. It would prohibit abortions that occur after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Currently, the abortion cut off in Mississippi is 20 weeks with the only abortion provider in the state cutting off at 16 weeks.
It was this same abortion provider that sued the state after the ban was signed into law. U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves of the Southern District of Mississippi blocked the law from taking effect, and his decision is now upheld by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Judge Patrick Higginbotham wrote in his majority opinion:
In an unbroken line dating to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s abortion cases have established (and affirmed, and re-affirmed) a woman’s right to choose an abortion before viability. States may regulate abortion procedures prior to viability so long as they do not impose an undue burden on the woman’s right, but they may not ban abortions.
This ruling does not just impact the pro-life movement in Mississippi. Governor John Bel Edwards of Louisiana, a pro-life Democrat, signed a very similar bill into law in 2018. However, the Louisiana bill included a provision that would only allow the law to take effect if the Mississippi ban was upheld by federal court.
Gov. Bryant is not willing to let this latest blow deter Mississippi’s fight for the unborn. He stated: “We will sustain our efforts to fight for America’s unborn children. Mississippi will continue this mission to the United States Supreme Court.”
Will the state be able to argue its case in front of the Supreme Court? Time will tell. Even if victory does not come in the form of a higher court ruling, all pro-lifers should be encouraged by the persistence of pro-life officials in Mississippi.