Within six hours, the governor signed a bill banning most abortions after 15 weeks of gestation, the state’s lone abortion clinic sued, and a federal judge set a Tuesday morning hearing to consider blocking the restrictions.
Mississippi’s only abortion clinic, though, is asking an immediate halt to the law, telling a federal judge that a woman who is 15 weeks or more pregnant is scheduled to have an abortion Tuesday afternoon. Late Monday, U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves set a Tuesday morning hearing on the request by the Jackson Women’s Health Organization that he impose a temporary restraining order.
“We’ll probably be sued in about half an hour,” Bryant said to laughter from supporters as he signed the bill. “That’ll be fine with me. It’ll be worth fighting over.”
Bryant’s prediction was accurate. The state’s only abortion clinic and one of the physicians who practices there sued in federal court within an hour, arguing the law violates other federal court rulings saying a state can’t restrict abortion before a child can survive on its own outside the womb.
The Jackson Women’s Health Organization, in a lawsuit handled by the Center of Reproductive Rights, argued the measure is unconstitutional and should immediately be struck down.
“Under decades of United States Supreme Court precedent, the state of Mississippi cannot ban abortion prior to viability, regardless of what exceptions are provided to the ban,” the suit states.
The suit says the clinic performed 78 abortions in 2017 when the fetus was identified as being 15 weeks or older. That’s out of about 2,500 abortions performed statewide, mostly at the clinic.
U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves heard arguments Tuesday before granting the clinic’s immediate request for a temporary restraining order that would block the law during the legal fight.