Fitch petitions the U.S. Supreme Court to clarify its stance on abortion

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Tuesday, Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch issued the following statement on the petition she has filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act, also known as the Fetal Heartbeat Bill:

“Yesterday, we filed a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court of the United States asking the Court to review Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act, which preserves the right to life after 15 weeks within the womb. The petition asks the Court to clarify its jurisprudence on abortion to allow states like ours to enact laws that further their legitimate interests in protecting maternal health, safeguarding unborn babies, and promoting respect for innocent and vulnerable life. We are hopeful that the Court will accept our case and allow Mississippi to defend innocent life as the Legislature and people of this great State intend.”

The Fetal Heartbeat Bill was passed by the Mississippi Legislature in 2018 and was immediately and successfully challenged by the state’s only abortion clinic in Jackson. A federal judge ruled the law was unconstitutional, blocking it from taking effect.

In December 2019, a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the lower court’s ruling. The State of Mississippi asked the court to reconsider, but in January 2020, the court said it would not rehear arguments in the case.

Fitch announced Jan. 17 that she would appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In March 2019, the legislature passed an even more restrictive bill, banning abortions at about six weeks, when doctors can first detect signs of fetal heart activity, but before many women know they are pregnant. That bill was also blocked by a federal court.

Mississippi is among about a dozen states working to bring cases to the U.S. Supreme Court in an effort to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade decision in which the Court ruled that the U.S. Constitution protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose abortion without excessive government restriction.