On Monday, March 19, 2018, Governor Phil Bryant signed into law the House Bill 1510, which made Mississippi the state with the earliest abortion ban across the United States.
However, just the day after, District Judge Carlton Reeves issued a temporary restraint, blocking the law from being implemented for ten days while the federal court considers further actions. Judge Reeves wrote a statement addressing his decision.
“The law threatens immediate, irreparable harm to Mississippians’ abilities to control their ‘destiny and … body. A brief delay in enforcing a law of dubious constitutionality does not outweigh that harm, and in fact serves the public’s interest in preserving the freedom guaranteed by the United States Constitution,” Judge Reeves wrote.
House Bill 1510
The law signed by Governor Bryant, also known as the Gestational Age Act, bans abortions after 15 weeks of gestation. It only makes exceptions if medical emergencies are presented or in cases in which the fetus shows a severe abnormality. However, no exceptions are allowed for incidents of rape or incest.
The law also demands the doctors, if the abortion is performed after 15 weeks, to report the details of the circumstances that made the case an exception.
If the doctors violate the law, consciously, they could get their medical licenses suspended or revoked in Mississippi. Fines of up to $500 or penalties are also part of the result of falsifying records.
The Jackson Women’s Health Organization is the only one remaining clinic that performs abortions. Mississippi is included in the small group of states that still provides the service.
A controversial law
As Judge Reeves expressed his opposition to the recently signed law, it faces another enemy. The nonprofit Center for Reproductive Rights decided to file a lawsuit against the constitutionality of the bill, considering it went into effect immediately with0ut any process or review.
The lawsuit also makes an urgent request for a specific woman who had already scheduled a 15-week abortion on Tuesday afternoon (March 20, 2018).
The Center for Reproductive Rights also explained that the law violates “longstanding Supreme Court precedent,” and claimed that by banning the abortion after 15 weeks, the government becomes a part of the pile of bans that were classified as unconstitutional on past similar situations.
Governor Bryant responded and ignored these allegations.
“House Bill 1510 protects maternal health and will further our efforts to make Mississippi the safest place in America for an unborn child. We are confident in its constitutionality and look forward to vigorously defending it,” said Governor Bryant.