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Federal court upholds block on Mississippi’s heartbeat law



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Federal judges yesterday upheld a ruling to overturn a law banning abortions in Mississippi once a heartbeat can be detected, at around 6 weeks gestational age.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s ruling to block the law from going into effect. The court previously blocked a law prohibiting abortions after 15 weeks.

“[A]ll agree that cardiac activity can be detected well before the fetus is viable. That dooms the law. 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 judges wrote in their decision.

The New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights sued the state on behalf of Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Mississippi’s sole abortion provider, after then-Gov. Phil Bryant signed the law last year.

“A ban at six weeks of pregnancy means many of our patients would lose their right to have an abortion before they even know they’re pregnant,” JWHO Director Shannon Brewer told CBS.

“Most of our patients are past that point. Some have spent weeks saving money for the procedure and have driven hundreds of miles to reach us.”

Mississippi, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana and Ohio all passed heartbeat laws in 2019, all of which have been blocked by the courts.

The goal of abortion opponents is to take one of the laws to the U.S. Supreme Court to challenge the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

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