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Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant

December 16, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Mississippi will request that the U.S. Supreme Court review and uphold the state’s ban on aborting babies at 15 weeks, Republican Gov. Phil Bryant announced over the weekend.

In March, Bryant signed HB 1510, which prohibits abortions from being committed past 15 weeks for any reason other than physical medical emergencies or severe fetal abnormalities. The pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit on behalf of Women’s Health Organization in Jackson within an hour of the signing.

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves quickly issued a temporary restraining order against enforcing the law, and in November declared it unconstitutional in a ruling filled with pro-abortion talking points rather than legal arguments. Nevertheless, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Reeves last week, prompting the governor to stress that he’s willing to take the issue to the nation’s highest court:

“In an unbroken line dating to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s abortion cases have established (and affirmed, and reaffirmed) a woman’s right to choose an abortion before viability,” the Fifth Circuit claimed. “States may regulate abortion procedures prior to viability so long as they do not impose an undue burden on the woman’s right, but they may not ban abortions.”

That “unbroken line” is precisely what Mississippi and other pro-life states intend to challenge, however. The U.S. Constitution does not contain a right to abortion, and some scholars even argue that its equal-protection guarantees require states to forbid abortion. In any event, many legal authorities who personally favor legal abortion nevertheless admit that Roe exeeded the text of the Constitution.

Current judicial precedent protects abortion before fetal viability, and in 2014 the Supreme Court refused to consider the constitutionality of a 20-week ban in Arizona. However, lawyers with the Life Legal Defense Foundation note that the Court has also acknowledged a “compelling interest in protecting the unborn child” as pregnancy progresses, particularly on criteria like fetal pain (which can be felt before viability).

Bryant has previously declared that saving preborn lives is “worth fighting over” in court, with House Speaker Philip Gunn agreeing that the state was “absolutely” ready to incur the costs of a legal battle, because “I don't know if you can put any value on human life.”

Mississippi has also enacted legislation banning abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is similarly tied up in the courts. Pro-lifers hope that such heartbeat laws will provoke a Supreme Court review in the next few years that overturns Roe and frees the public to vote directly on abortion again.


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