Judge temporarily blocks 15-week abortion ban

In a lawsuit handled by the Center of Reproductive Rights, the Jackson Women's Health Organization says the measure is unconstitutional and should immediately be struck down.

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Mississippi's only abortion clinic is asking a federal judge to block a law banning most abortions after 15 weeks of gestation, taking that step less than 24 hours after the law took effect.

"U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves granted plaintiffs" temporary restraining order on Tuesday afternoon in a brief two-page order. The suit argued the bill strips women of options in a state where there are already very few, including one woman, who is at 15 weeks gestation and was scheduled to have an abortion Tuesday afternoon.

The law, which makes abortions after 15 weeks illegal, only allows exceptions in cases in which the mother's life is in danger or there is a fetal abnormality that is "incompatible with life". She was at 15 weeks or more of gestation which, according to the Associated Press, exceeded the time frame during which Mississippi's new law permitted certain abortions.

The bill will create the earliest ban on abortion in any state in the United States and will push back Mississippi's current limit by five weeks.

The suit says the clinic performed 78 abortions in 2017 when the fetus was identified as being 15 weeks or older. John Milkovich, would keep much of the state's existing abortion laws intact, including a sentence of up to 10 years of hard labor imprisonment and fines ranging between $10,000 to $100,000 for abortion providers.

The law also requires doctors who perform abortions after 15 weeks to submit reports detailing the circumstances of each case.

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, left, looks on during a meeting of the National Governors Association at the White House on February 23, 2015.

"We are saving more of the unborn than any state in America, and what better thing can we do?"

House Speaker Philip Gunn was present when Bryant signed the bill into law.

Mississippi's governor has signed the nation's tightest abortion restrictions into law. He says the law is created to "make MS the safest place in America for an unborn child".

"We believe this law should be a model for the rest of the country", Jameson Taylor, acting president of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, said in a statement.

Some legal experts have said a change in the law is unlikely unless the makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court changes in a way that favors abortion opponents. Bryant has frequently said he wants MS to be the "safest place in America for an unborn child". "That right protects her choice "to have an abortion before viability.' States can not 'prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision" to do so".

The measure, which went into effect immediately, includes some exceptions, like if a woman's life or a "major bodily function" is threatened or if the fetus has a health problem that would mean it likely wouldn't survive outside the womb.