A U.S. district judge temporarily blocked a Mississippi law that would ban abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy Friday evening, after the only abortion clinic left in Mississippi sued to stop the law from going into effect.
And in his sarcastic, searing opinion, Judge Carlton Reeves makes it clear that he’s fed up with the Mississippi legislature’s attempts to restrict access to abortion.
“Here we go again,” Reeves wrote in his opinion’s very first line. “Mississippi has passed another law banning abortions prior to viability.”
Late last year, Reeves struck down another Mississippi law that sought to ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. In his Friday opinion, Reeves pointed out that the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that a woman has a right to get an abortion prior to fetal viability — which generally occurs at 24 weeks.
“If a fetus is not viable at 15 weeks LMP, it is not viable at six weeks LMP,” Reeves wrote, referring to “last menstrual period,” a common method of dating a pregnancy’s age. And given the fact that Mississippi tried to pass this six-week ban anyway, Reeves said he felt compelled to observe something else.
““If there is no medical evidence to prove that a fetus is viable at 15 weeks LMP or at six weeks LMP,” he wrote, “then a fetus is not viable between zero and five weeks LMP.”
Reeves’ temporary stay on the six-week ban is scheduled to remain in place while litigation over the ban continues.
Mississippi isn’t the only state to pass a so-called “heartbeat” bill this year. Kentucky, Ohio, and Georgia have also passed laws that would ban abortion at six weeks of pregnancy; Missouri’s governor signed into law Friday a bill that would ban it at eight weeks. Last week, Alabama passed a law that would ban almost all abortions, except when the pregnancy posed a “serious health risk” to the mother.
None of these laws are currently in effect, thanks in part to court challenges.
Cover: The Mississippi State Capitol dome is visible in the distance as the flag of the state of Mississippi flies nearby in Jackson, MS on January 10, 2019. (Photo by Brandon Dill for The Washington Post via Getty Images)