Mississippi judge won’t block ‘trigger’ law that would ban most abortions in state

Published 3:31 pm Tuesday, July 5, 2022

A Mississippi judge on Tuesday rejected a request by the state’s only abortion clinic to temporarily block a state law that would ban most abortions.

Without other developments in the clinic’s lawsuit, the law will take effect Thursday.

The clinic recently filed a lawsuit seeking to block the state from implementing the law, citing constitutional issues. That 2007 “trigger” law was stipulated to take effect if the U.S. Supreme Court ever overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. The nation’s high court took that momentous step last month.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Attorneys for the clinic requested a temporary restraining order to stop the trigger law, but Judge Debbra K. Halford rejected that request.

The law is set to take effect Thursday. Legislators passed it before the U.S. Supreme Court recently overturned the 1973 ruling that allowed abortions nationwide.

The clinic, Jackson Women’s Health Organization, was seeking a temporary restraining order that would allow it to remain open, at least while the lawsuit remains in court.

The closely watched lawsuit is part of a flurry of activity nationwide since the Supreme Court ruled. Conservative states have moved to halt or limit abortions while others have sought to ensure abortion rights, all as some women try to obtain the medical procedure against the changing legal landscape.

Florida’s new 15-week abortion ban was blocked but then quickly reinstated Tuesday, following an appeal from the state attorney general in a lawsuit challenging the restriction. Judge John C. Cooper issued the order temporarily halting the law after reproductive health providers argued that the state constitution guarantees a right to the procedure. The state quickly appealed his order, automatically placing the law back in effect.

The Florida law prohibits abortions after 15 weeks, with exceptions if the procedure is necessary to save the pregnant woman’s life, prevent serious injury or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality. It does not allow for exemptions for pregnancies caused by rape, incest or human trafficking.

Violators could face up to five years in prison. Physicians and other medical professionals could lose their licenses and face administrative fines of $10,000 for each violation. The law, which went into effect Friday, was passed by the GOP-controlled legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis this spring.

In Louisiana, the state attorney general has asked the state Supreme Court to allow enforcement of a ban on most abortions. Louisiana’s anti-abortion statutes include so-called triggers that were designed to instantly take effect if the U.S. Supreme Court were to reverse abortion rights. But a state judge in New Orleans last week blocked enforcement of the law pending a court hearing on a lawsuit filed by a north Louisiana abortion clinic and others.

The Louisiana lawsuit says the law is unclear on when the ban takes effect and on medical exceptions to the ban. Tuesday’s filing by the attorney general’s office says the order blocking enforcement should be dissolved.