Tuesday, 20 April 2021
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Mississippi governor: Legal fight for unborn children will head to Supreme Court

(CNA) An effort to ban most abortions from 15 weeks into pregnancy will head to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Mississippi governor has said after a federal appeals court upheld a ruling that blocked the law.

“We will sustain our efforts to fight for America’s unborn children,” Republican Gov. Phil Bryant said on Twitter Dec. 13. “Mississippi will continue this mission to the United States Supreme Court.”

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Due to changes in the makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court, both foes and supporters of legal abortion anticipate any decision on abortion could overturn or significantly modify existing precedent that, with few restrictions, mandates legal abortion across the U.S.

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In a decision published Friday, however, Judge Patrick Higginbotham of the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with foes of the Mississippi law in citing existing precedent dating to 1973.

“In an unbroken line dating to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s abortion cases have established (and affirmed, and re-affirmed) a woman’s right to choose an abortion before viability,” he said in the ruling. “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.”

The decision upheld U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves’ November 2018 ruling against the law. Reeves had said it is “established medical consensus” that the viability of the unborn baby, the point at which he or she can live outside the womb, typically begins 23 to 24 weeks into pregnancy.

The law allows abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy only when the mother’s life or a major bodily function is in danger, or when the unborn child has a severe abnormality and is not expected to be able to live outside the womb at full term. Exceptions are not granted for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. Physicians who knowingly violate the law can lose their state medical license.

Gov. Bryant signed the legislation in March 2018, saying, “I am committed to making Mississippi the safest place in America for an unborn child, and this bill will help us achieve that goal.”

Editor's note: This article was first published by Catholic News Agency and is reprinted here with permission.

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