Mississippi's only abortion clinic sues state over nation's most restrictive ban


Gov. Phil Bryant (R., Miss.) signed the country's strictest abortion restrictions into law on Monday, immediately banning abortion procedures after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Also known as the Gestational Age Act, Mississippi's new law makes exceptions only for medical emergencies or cases in which there's a "severe fetal abnormality".

House Bill 1510's only exceptions are if a fetus has health problems making it "incompatible with life" outside of the womb at full term, or if a pregnant woman's life or a "major bodily function" is threatened by pregnancy.

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant has frequently said he wants MS to be the "safest place in America for an unborn child".

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MS is the only state in the country that requires physicians who perform abortions to be board-certified or board-eligible obstetrician-gynecologists, a fact that's being challenged in court as unconstitutional by the Center for Reproductive Rights. Although Mississippi is among the states with a 20-week ban, up until the enactment of this latest bill, the cutoff time for abortions at the Jackson clinic was 16 weeks. The Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood say the law is unconstitutional. Pregnancies resulting from rape and incest are not exempted.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals said the following about the bills: "Because there is no genuine dispute that (North Dakota's law) generally prohibits abortions before viability - as the Supreme Court has defined that concept - and because we are bound by Supreme Court precedent holding that states may not prohibit pre-viability abortions, we must affirm the district court's grant of summary judgment to the plaintiffs".

Mississippi's governor has signed the nation's tightest abortion restrictions into law.

House Speaker Philip Gunn, who witnessed Bryant's signing ceremony, told The Associated Press he is proud MS is taking steps to protect "the most vulnerable of human life: the unborn". "Those are the ones we're trying to protect".

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When asked if the state is prepared to bear the cost of a lawsuit, Gunn said, 'Absolutely'. Whatever challenges we have to take on to do that, is something we're willing to do'.

'We certainly think this bill is unconstitutional, ' said Katherine Klein, equality advocacy coordinator for the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi. "The 15-week marker has no bearing in science".

Several conservative groups, including the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, were consulted when the measure was being written.

The U.S. Senate failed to pass a 20-week abortion ban bill in January.

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"Mississippi politicians' flagrant assault on reproductive rights will not go unchallenged", said Lourdes Rivera, senior vice president of United States programs at the Center for Reproductive Rights, in a written statement. With 60 "yes" votes required to advance, the bill failed on a 51-46 vote.