MS Judge Who Rejected 15-Week Abortion Ban: 6-Week Ban ‘Smacks Of Defiance’

A volunteer (L) who escorts patients into the Jackson Women's Health Organization, the last abortion clinic in Mississippi, and pro-life activists wait for patients to arrive on April 5, 2018 in Jackson, Mississippi.... A volunteer (L) who escorts patients into the Jackson Women's Health Organization, the last abortion clinic in Mississippi, and pro-life activists wait for patients to arrive on April 5, 2018 in Jackson, Mississippi. - Women have been able to legally seek an abortion throughout the United States since 1973's landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. But the right to reproductive choice remain tenuous as debate over the issue continues to rage, especially in conservative states like Mississippi which have introduced myriad measures restricting access to services -- creating for many women an effective ban. Mississippi is among seven US states with just one place where women can seek an abortion. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) / With AFP Story by Eleonore SENS: Facing legal threats, Mississippi's last abortion clinic stands defiant (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images) MORE LESS
May 21, 2019 4:11 p.m.

The same judge who struck down Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban just a few months ago said Tuesday that a new six-week ban signed into law by the state’s governor “smacks of defiance.”

“It sure smacks of defiance to this court,” U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves said Monday, per several local outlets. After Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed the six-week ban into law in March — outlawing abortions performed before many women even know they’re pregnant — the state’s only abortion clinic, Jackson Women’s Health Organization (pictured above), filed a lawsuit.

In November, he struck down the 15-week ban saying it “unequivocally” violated the constitutional rights of women seeking abortions, a ruling the state appealed. On Tuesday, Reeves was similarly blunt.

“You said, ‘We can’t do 15 weeks so by God we will do six weeks?'” Reeves asked an attorney for the state at one point, per CNN.

He brought up the hypothetical example of a 10- or 11-year old rape victim who would be forced under the law to bring a pregnancy to term, if she hesitated at first to inform her parents of the rape.

“The child must bring this fetus to term under the statute?” he asked, per multiple outlets.

Reeves said in court that he expected to issue an order regarding a temporary block of the new Mississippi ban soon, local reports said. Lawyers for the Center for Reproductive Rights argued against the law Tuesday.

Why did Mississippi pursue an even more draconian law than the one a federal judge blocked just a few months ago? Republican state legislators around the country have been open about their intentions: reaching the Supreme Court and testing both Roe v. Wade and the more recent Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in light of President Trump’s two recent additions to the high court.

TPM’s Kate Riga ran down the state-by-state legal forecasts for five abortion bans, in district and appellate courts, on Friday. A federal judge in Kentucky blocked a similar six-week ban in March.

Reeves acknowledged this landscape in his ruling striking down the 15-week ban.

“The State chose to pass a law it knew was unconstitutional to endorse a decades-long campaign, fueled by national interest groups, to ask the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade,” he wrote. “This Court follows the commands of the Supreme Court and the dictates of the United States Constitution, rather than the disingenuous calculations of the Mississippi Legislature.”

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