JACKSON, Miss. ( Associated Press) – While attorneys argued over abortion laws across the South on Tuesday, a Mississippi judge rejected a request from the state’s only abortion clinic to temporarily block a law that would ban most abortions.
Without other developments in the clinic’s lawsuit, the clinic will close at the end of business on Wednesday and the state law will come into force on Thursday.
Mississippi lawmakers approved the “trigger” law before the U.S. Supreme Court recently overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling reversed what legalized abortion nationwide. The clinic, Jackson Women’s Health Organization, applied for a temporary restraining order that would have allowed it to remain open while the lawsuit unfolded in court.
The lawsuit, which has been closely followed, has been part of a spate of operations nationwide since the Supreme Court ruled. Conservative states have moved to stop or restrict abortions, while others have tried to secure abortion rights, all while some women are trying to obtain the medical procedure against the changing legal landscape.
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Florida’s new 15-week abortion ban was blocked, but then quickly reinstated Tuesday after an appeal by the state’s attorney general in a lawsuit challenging the restriction. Judge John C. Cooper issued the order to temporarily halt the law after reproductive health providers argued that the state constitution guaranteed a right to the procedure. The state quickly appealed against its order and automatically reinstated the law.
Florida law makes exceptions if the procedure is necessary to save the pregnant woman’s life, prevent serious injuries, or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality. It does not provide for exemptions for pregnancies caused by rape, incest or human trafficking.
The law, which went into effect Friday, was approved by the GOP-controlled legislature and signed this spring by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
In Louisiana, the state’s attorney general asked the state Supreme Court to allow the enforcement of a ban on most abortions. Louisiana’s anti-abortion laws include so-called triggers that are designed to take effect immediately if the U.S. Supreme Court reverses abortion rights. But a state judge in New Orleans last week blocked the application of the law pending a court hearing over a lawsuit filed by a northern Louisiana abortion clinic and others.
The Louisiana lawsuit says the law is unclear about when the ban will take effect and about medical exceptions to the ban. Tuesday’s submission by the attorney general’s office says the order blocking enforcement should be revoked.
Mississippi was one of several states with a “trigger” law that relied on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade to overthrow. The law was passed in 2007 and has never been challenged in court. It says abortion will only be legal if the pregnant woman’s life is in danger or if a pregnancy is caused by a rape reported to law enforcement. It does not have an exception for pregnancies caused by incest.
The clinic’s lawsuit cited a 1998 Mississippi Supreme Court ruling that said the state constitution invokes a right to privacy that includes an implied right to choose whether or not to undergo an abortion.
The Attorney General’s Office argued that the 1998 decision was rooted in U.S. Supreme Court rulings in 1973 and 1992 that established or protected abortion rights, but were overturned on June 24. But Rob McDuff, a lawyer for the clinic, argued that state judges never said. their decision was made as a result of the federal Constitution.
“They never said it would evaporate if Roe was ever dominated,” McDuff said in court Tuesday.
The state attorney general’s office said the Mississippi constitution does not recognize a right to abortion and the state has a long history of restricting the procedure.
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“In the past two weeks, the state of the law has changed dramatically,” state Attorney General Scott Stewart argued in court Tuesday.
The lawsuit was filed three days after the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade overthrew in a case that arose in Mississippi. The clinic continued to see patients, but owner Diane Derzis said it would close if the near-abortion ban came into effect.
Chancellor Debbra K. Halford on Tuesday rejected the clinic’s request to stop the new state law from taking effect on Thursday.
“The simple wording of the Mississippi Constitution does not call for abortion,” Halford wrote. She added that it was “more than doubtful” that the Mississippi Supreme Court would continue to uphold its 1998 ruling now that the U.S. Supreme Court has set aside its own previous abortion rulings.
McDuff told The Associated Press that clinic attorneys will review Halford’s decision and consider whether to appeal to the state Supreme Court.
Outside the courthouse Tuesday in Mississippi’s capital, several women held signs aborting abortion rights while two men took turns using a microphone to tell abortion rights supporters that God would punish them forever.
“You are bloodthirsty. Bloodthirsty, horrible filth in the eyes of God, ”said one of the anti-abortion protesters, Allen Siders. “Consider your ways today, sinners. Consider your ways today. Shame on you. “
A supporter of abortion rights performed an impromptu dance in front of Siders to mock him, and several women laughed.
Anthony Izaguirre reports from Tallahassee, Florida, and Kevin McGill reports from New Orleans.