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A federal judge on Friday temporarily blocked Mississippi from moving ahead with a so-called “heartbeat” abortion law that bans the procedure after a cardiac activity is first detected, which occurs at around six weeks of pregnancy.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves stops the order from taking effect July 1.
“Here we go again,” Reeves wrote. “Mississippi has passed another law banning abortions prior to viability.”
This Friday, May 17, 2019 photo shows the Jackson Women’s Health Organization in Jackson, Miss. The facility is the state’s only abortion clinic. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Reeves also struck down a 2018 Mississippi law that banned abortion at 15 weeks. The state is appealing that ruling.
“It sure smacks of defiance to this court,” he said of lawmakers passing another ban after he struck down the earlier one.
Attorneys for the state’s only abortion clinic – the Jackson Women’s Health Organization — argued Tuesday that the newest law would eliminate all abortions because most women don’t yet know they are pregnant when a fetal heartbeat is first discovered. The state said the law only limits when abortions can be performed.
Exemptions will be made if a woman’s health is at risk.
An abortion rights advocate holds signage at the Capitol in Jackson, Miss., voicing her opposition to state legislatures passing abortion bans that prohibit most abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, Tuesday, May 21, 2019. The rally in Jackson was one of many around the country to protest abortion restrictions that states are enacting. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Reeves wrote Friday that the new measure “prevents a woman’s free choice, which is central to personal dignity and autonomy. This injury outweighs any interest the State might have in banning abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat.”
Mississippi’s Republican Gov Phil Bryant expressed disappointment after Friday’s ruling.
“As governor, I’ve pledged to do all I can to protect life,” Bryant said. “Time and time again the Legislature and I have done just that.”
Lawmakers in several states have recently passed or advanced restrictive abortion measures in light of a conservative-majority Supreme Court Abortion opponents are hoping to mount legal challenges to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
Alabama recently passed a law its own law that makes it a felony to perform an abortion at any stage of a pregnancy. Other states – Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Ohio — have approved their own abortion measures. Missouri recently approved a bill to ban abortion at eight weeks.
All the bans are expected to face legal challenges. Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit Friday challenging the Alabama measure.
A federal judge in March issued a preliminary injunction on the Kentucky ban.
Under Mississippi’s abortion ban, doctors who perform the procedure could have their medical licenses revoked.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.