A federal judge in Mississippi has permanently blocked one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country — a ban on the procedure after 15 weeks of gestation.

Governor Phil Bryant signed H.B. 1510, also known as the Gestational Age Act, in March, pledging his “commitment to making Mississippi the safest place in America for an unborn child.”

The law made exceptions only for medical emergencies or cases in which there’s a “severe fetal abnormality.” There were no exceptions for incidents of rape or incest.
Mississippi argued that because of these exceptions, the law was a “regulation” and did not place an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to choose.

“The ban’s lawfulness hinges on a single question: whether the 15-week mark is before or after viability,” District Judge Carlton W. Reeves wrote in his Tuesday ruling.

“The record is clear: States may not ban abortions prior to viability; 15 weeks [since a woman’s last menstrual period] is prior to viability,” he wrote.

“This act is a ban. It is not a regulation,” Reeves wrote in response to the state’s argument.
Furthermore, he called the Legislature’s professed interest in women’s health “pure gaslighting,” pointing to evidence of the state’s high infant and maternal mortality rates.

“Its leaders are proud to challenge Roe but choose not to lift a finger to address the tragedies lurking on the other side of the delivery room, such as high infant and maternal mortality rates,” he wrote in a footnote.

“No, legislation like H.B. 1510 is closer to the old Mississippi — the Mississippi bent on controlling women and minorities.”

The fact that men, myself included, are determining how women may choose to manage their reproductive health is a sad irony not lost on the court,” he wrote.
“As a man, who cannot get pregnant or seek an abortion, I can only imagine the anxiety and turmoil a woman might experience when she decides whether to terminate her pregnancy through an abortion. Respecting her autonomy demands that this statute be enjoined.

Reuters reports the ruling effectively blocks a similar ban on abortions after 15 weeks gestation in Louisiana, which was set to take effect if the Mississippi law survived.