Federal court blocks Mississippi law protecting babies with beating hearts
JACKSON, Mississippi, February 21, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – A Mississippi law that bans aborting the vast majority of babies hit a roadblock in federal appeals court Thursday, albeit one the law’s supporters fully anticipated.
Last March, Republican Gov. Phil Bryant signed a law banning abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected (as early as six weeks), with exceptions only to save a woman’s life or prevent harm to a “major bodily function.” It was slated to take effect on July 1 but was quickly blocked by a legal challenge from the abortion lobby, as well as 21 state attorneys general.
Last May, U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves expressed indignation at Mississippi lawmakers for daring to disregard his previous judgment against a milder 15-week abortion ban and pass the heartbeat law anyway.
On Thursday, a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that the heartbeat law was unconstitutional, Fox News reported.
Remarkably, the panel acknowledged that “cardiac activity can be detected well before the fetus is viable,” yet rather than strengthening the case for recognizing the preborn’s humanity, that fact actually “dooms the law,” simply because the 15-week ban was already said to be unconstitutional regardless of fetal heartbeat.
“If a ban on abortion after 15 weeks is unconstitutional, then it follows that a ban on abortion at an earlier stage of pregnancy is also unconstitutional,” the panel claimed.
While pro-lifers would take issue with the logic of that conclusion, the outcome is not exactly unwelcome.
The heartbeat law, like many such abortion bans passed across the country last year, was never expected to quickly take effect within Mississippi’s borders, but rather intended to provoke a legal battle that would hopefully reach the U.S. Supreme Court and instigate a review of Roe v. Wade, thereby potentially overturning decades of pro-abortion legal precedent and freeing the states to set their own abortion laws.
“We will sustain our efforts to fight for America’s unborn children,” Bryant declared in December. “Mississippi will continue this mission to the United States Supreme Court.”