CBS News reports:
Mississippi’s controversial “fetal heartbeat” ban, an effective six-week ban on abortion, was just struck down by a federal judge panel, according to a spokesperson for the Center for Reproductive Rights, the law firm that challenged the state law.
A three-judge panel of the Fifth District issued its decision Thursday afternoon, writing, “[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.”
Thursday’s decision temporarily will block the law from going into effect, upholding a lower court’s decision from May 2019. In December, the Fifth Circuit struck down a 15-week abortion ban passed by Mississippi.
Background information from Axios:
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked Mississippi’s six-week abortion ban on Thursday, indicating the three-judge panel finds the law unconstitutional.
What they’re saying: “This is now the second time in two months the Fifth Circuit has told Mississippi that it cannot ban abortion. Despite the relentless attempts of Mississippi and other states, the right to legal abortion remains the law of the land,” said Hillary Schneller, senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, in a press release.
The big picture: Mississippi is one of several states that passed abortion bans in 2019, along with Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Ohio and Utah.
States that have passed abortion restrictions:
- Alabama passed a near-total ban on abortion. It was temporarily blocked by a judge in late October.
- Louisiana passed a fetal heartbeat law in May. (Effective if a judge lifts the block in the Mississippi suit.)
- Ohio passed a fetal heartbeat law. It was temporarily blocked by a judge in early July.
- Kentucky passed a fetal heartbeat law. It’s been temporarily blocked by a judge.
- Georgia passed a fetal heartbeat law. It’s been temporarily blocked by a judge.
- Utah voted to limit abortions to the middle of the second trimester. (Effective as of May 14).
- Arkansas voted to limit abortions to the middle of the second trimester. This decision has been temporarily blocked by a federal judge.
- Missouri signed into law a ban on abortions at 8 weeks of pregnancy. This decision has been temporarily blocked by a federal judge.
States considering abortion restrictions:
- Pennsylvania Republicans introduced a heartbeat bill, but Gov. Tom Wolf (D) said he would veto it.
- Florida is considering 2 bills — one limiting abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy and the second is fetal heartbeat bill.
- South Carolina has removed exceptions for rape and incest to advance a fetal heartbeat bill.
- Maryland failed to pass a fetal heartbeat bill.
- Minnesota is considering a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks.
- West Virginia introduced a fetal heartbeat bill earlier this year.
- Tennessee has passed a bill that would ban abortions if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
States enacting abortion protections:
- Illinois’ Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill into law on in early June to protect the state’s abortion rights if Roe v. Wade were overturned.
- New York passed a bill in January that protects the “fundamental right” to abortions.
- Virginia expanded in May the range of medical professionals who can perform abortion procedures.
- The Kansas Court ruled in late April that the state constitution protects a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy.
- The Illinois House passed a bill in May further protecting abortions by removing some of the barriers for abortions and penalties for doctors, positioning Illinois to become a major U.S. abortion destination.
- Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) signed a bill into law in June that makes it easier to get an abortion by allowing medical professionals who are not doctors to perform the procedure.
- Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) signed a bill codifying the Roe v. Wade decision and protecting abortion rights in her state.
- A federal judge blocked an Indiana law in late June that would have banned second-trimester abortion procedures.