Louisiana lawmaker proposes 15-week abortion ban similar to Mississippi's

Phil Bryant

Phil Bryant

The most restrictive abortion law in the United States was in effect less than 24 hours before a federal judge temporarily blocked it Tuesday during what could become a long legal fight between Mississippi's Republican governor and the state's only abortion clinic. The measure is called the Gestational Age Act. The owner of Mississippi's only abortion clinic, Diane Derzis, opposes the law and has pledged to sue.

"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 lawsuit argues. Although Mississippi was already among the states with a 20-week ban, until the enactment of this latest bill, the cutoff time for abortions at the Jackson clinic was 16 weeks.

The law took effect immediately, leading the state's last abortion facility to sue nearly as rapidly.

Bryant tweeted that he was "committed to making MS the safest place in America" for fetuses. 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. This is typically considered between 24 to 26 weeks gestation, the group said.

The bill's definition of "severe fetal abnormality" is "a life-threatening physical condition that, in reasonable medical judgment, regardless of the provision of life-saving medical treatment, is incompatible with life outside the womb".

The law also requires doctors who perform abortions after 15 weeks to submit reports detailing the circumstances of each case.

The law and responding challenge set up a confrontation sought by abortion opponents, who are hoping federal courts will ultimately prohibit abortions before a fetus is viable.

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant made the comments while he signed the law Monday in a closed ceremony, according to a video his office posted to social media.

The legal complaint claimed the bill was unconstitutional and cited Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court ruling that invalidated certain state laws prohibiting abortion. "I pray today we have saved the first life of an unborn child in MS", he tweeted. The Mississippi measure is specifically created to challenge those rulings, trying to get courts to rule states can restrict abortion before viability. "It'll be worth fighting over".

There is just one abortion clinic left in the state of MS and it is located in the state capitol Jackson. Today, U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves put a temporary restraining order on the law Tuesday. Anti-choice politicians have been laser-focused on enacting pre-viability abortion bans-a 20-week ban here, a six-week ban there-but all of them suffer the same problem: They're wildly unconstitutional.

Reeves said in court that the "ultimate question" is whether a state can ban abortion before viability.

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