Center for Reproductive Rights Files New Lawsuit Challenging Mississippi’s Unconstitutional 15-Week Ban

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(PRESS RELEASE) Today, the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit challenging Mississippi’s unconstitutional ban on abortion after 15 weeks. The lawsuit comes just after Governor Phil Bryant signed the bill into law, which went into effect immediately and is now the earliest abortion ban in the nation. 

With HB 1510 in effect, women needing this care will be turned away starting today. In its complaint, the Center for Reproductive Rights asked the court to block the ban and safeguard access to safe and legal abortion for women in Mississippi, where only one clinic remains.

HB 1510 violates longstanding Supreme Court precedent, established in Roe v. Wade and reaffirmed in 2016 in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, that a state may not ban abortion before viability. Mississippi’s bill places substantial civil penalties on doctors who provide that care. The Center for Reproductive Rights argues that by banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, the bill violates decades of well-established, clear precedent under the U.S. Constitution. Courts have consistently struck down similar bans on abortion before viability as unconstitutional.

You can read the Center for Reproductive Right’s complaint here.

Said Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:

 “All women deserve access to safe and legal abortion care, no matter their zip code. Yet Mississippi politicians have shown once again that they will stop at nothing to deny women this fundamental right, targeting the state’s last remaining clinic in defiance of the U.S. Supreme Court and decades of settled precedent.

“Politicians are not above the rule of law, and we are confident this dangerous bill will be struck down like every similar attempt before it.”

ArizonaNorth Dakota and Arkansas passed similar laws seeking to ban pre-viability abortions and each was subsequently blocked by the courts in challenges brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights. In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review Arizona’s ban on abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy after it had been declared unconstitutional. In 2016, the Supreme Court refused to review both North Dakota’s 6-week ban on abortion and Arkansas’ 12-week ban, both of which had been struck down by lower courts.

The Center won a permanent injunction against Mississippi’s unconstitutional clinic shutdown law last year.

Julie Rikelman and Christine Parker from the Center for Reproductive Rights filed the suit, along with local counsel Robert B. McDuff in Jackson, Miss.