Mississippi governor signs ban on abortions after 20 weeks

[JURIST] Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant [official website] on Wednesday signed a bill into law that bans abortions after 20 weeks after a woman's last menstrual period, or as early as 18 weeks of pregnancy. The bill [text], passed [JURIST report] earlier this month, allows [AP report] for an exception to the ban if the woman faces death or permanent injury because of the pregnancy or if the fetus suffers from a severe abnormality. The bill will go into effect on July 1. The law will not affect Jackson Women's Health Organization [official website], the only abortion clinic in the state, which only performs abortions up to 16 weeks. The US Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade [Cornell LII backgrounder; JURIST backgrounder] declares that states cannot ban abortions before the fetus becomes viable, which is not believed to occur until around 22 to 24 weeks of pregnancy.

The controversy surrounding the house bill and Mississippi's only abortion clinic has persisted for several years. In February the Mississippi House of Representatives [official website] approved a measure [JURIST report] banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. In 2013 a judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi [official website] extended an injunction [JURIST report] blocking Mississippi from revoking the license of the state's only abortion clinic. Earlier that year a judge for the district court issued a temporary injunction [JURIST report] blocking the law following a lawsuit in the district court challenging the regulation [JURIST report] that was scheduled to go into effect. In 2005 a federal judge in Mississippi ruled that Mississippi's law restricting abortions performed after the first-trimester violates the Fourteenth Amendment [text].

 

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