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Federal Judge Blocks Mississippi 'Heartbeat' Abortion Law: "It Threatens Women's Rights, Free Choice"

Federal Judge Blocks Mississippi 'Heartbeat' Abortion Law: "It Threatens Women's Rights, Free Choice"

Judge Reeves stated that the Mississippi "heartbeat" abortion law "threatens immediate harm to women's rights, especially considering most women do not seek abortions services until after six weeks."

The month of May has been rather eventful for pro-life an pro-choice movements as a number of states across the country introduced and passed abortion bills which effectively place a blanket ban on women getting abortions. While pro-lifers celebrated their victory, those fighting for the reproductive rights of women outraged at the blatant injustice being pushed upon the women of America. They are also determined to continue fighting for their cause, now more than ever. Friday came bearing good news for them as a federal judge blocked a Mississippi legislation which forbids abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which could be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.



 

 

According to CNN, the federal judge in question is Judge Carlton Reeves, who while issuing the preliminary injunction, stated that the law "threatens immediate harm to women's rights, especially considering most women do not seek abortions services until after six weeks." This has been one of the main points raised by pro-choice activists against the controversial "heartbeat" bills introduced by a total of 15 states and passed by 4: Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, and Mississippi.



 

 

"Allowing the law to take effect would force the clinic to stop providing most abortion care," Judge Reeves continued, adding that by banning abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, the law prevents a woman's free choice, which is central to personal dignity and autonomy." Prior to Reeves' intervention, the draconian law was set to take effect in Mississippi in July. 



 

 

The new wave of abortion restrictions introduced by Republican-led states aims to enforce legislation that will call into question Supreme Court precedent on the matter of the reproductive rights. While none of them have gone into effect as of now, the very fact that such restrictions would be suggested and supported, triggered protests across the country on May 21, Tuesday, the same day Judge Reeves heard arguments in Mississippi. 



 

 

State officials who defended the legislation in court claimed the bill was passed with the aim of furthering the state's interesting in promoting "respect for life" by regulating the deliberate termination of pregnancies. Although they acknowledged Supreme Court precedent on viability, they argued that "the chances of the fetus surviving to full term are 95%-98%" once a heartbeat has been detected in the womb. Additionally, they stated that the law aims to "prohibit procedures that destroy the life of a whole, separate, unique living human being."



 

 

Furthermore, Mississippi's Assistant Attorney General Paul Barnes said in court that although the Supreme Court hadn't upheld a pre-viability ban, it does not mean that it "won't happen" in the future. The radical bill was challenged by the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of the Jackson Women's Health Organization, the only abortion clinic in the state. They pointed out that the Mississippi "heartbeat" bill, much like similar bills introduced in other states, is meant to be unconstitutional so as to trigger Supreme Court review.



 

 

Hillary Schneller, a lawyer for the Center for Reproductive Rights, argued in court that the law was in "defiance" of Supreme Court precedent and is "clearly unconstitutional." In an interview, she also stated, "Many women don't even know they are pregnant at six weeks, and even those who do will find it nearly impossible to obtain an abortion so quickly, especially in a state with just one clinic."



 

 

Meanwhile, the CEO and president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, Nancy Northup vowed in a statement released on Friday to challenge bans like that of Mississippi's "at every turn." She added, "The Constitution protects a woman's right to make decisions over her body and her life. The district court's decision today was a resounding affirmation of this settled law." Critics are concerned that with Justice Brett Kavanaugh taking the seat of retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, the 1973 landmark decision Roe V. Wade could be eventually cut back or even completely gutted by the Supreme court.



 

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