Mississippi’s only abortion clinic in court

A judge has denied a petition by Mississippi’s only abortion clinic to allow it to stay open by blocking a law that would ban most abortions in the state. The Jackson Women’s Health Organization had requested a temporary restraining order that would allow it to remain open, at least while the trial is ongoing. Judge Debbra Halford was appointed as a special judge to hear the case after Hinds County judges recused themselves. Ahead of Tuesday’s hearing, the judge’s bailiff said the judge’s practice was to request a moment of prayer, which was provided by a pastor. Rob McDuff, an attorney representing the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, argued before the judge that the Mississippi Supreme Court’s 1998 decision in Pro-Choice v. to state politicians. “The trigger ban and the six-week ban, both of which would violate that right,” McDuff said. McDuff asked the judge to decide whether this Mississippi Supreme Court decision is binding, regardless of the US Supreme Court’s decision. Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Roe vs. Wade, and Planned Parenthood vs. Casey were waived, meaning Pro-Choice vs. Fordice was also waived. “The harm to plaintiffs does not outweigh the harm to the other side,” Stewart said. Stewart said the Mississippi Constitution does not protect the right to an abortion, just as the United States Supreme Court does not protect that right. Both constitutions protect the right to privacy, he said. “The trigger ban and the six-week ban are affirmative laws that were properly enacted by the Mississippi Legislature through proper constitutional legislative authority,” Halford said in his ruling. “Mississippi’s constitutional protection for abortion is based on the Fordice Court’s judicial interpretation of Section 32 of the Mississippi Constitution, which fails to mention abortion, relying significantly on Roe and Casey, neither of which remains good law. This Court cannot conclude that to bar the application of two properly enacted statutes in deference to a case whose constitutionality has been so strongly challenged is in the public interest.” to restrict abortions in Mississippi is set to go into effect Thursday. Rights, which was one of the groups to file the lawsuit on behalf of the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, said in a statement, “These bans should have been blocked today. They violate the constitution of Mississippi. Mississippi residents who need abortions right now are in a state of panic, trying to get into the clinic before it’s too late. No one should be forced to live in fear like this. Tate Reeves released a statement saying in part, “This law has the potential to save the lives of thousands of Mississippi’s unborn children. This is a great victory for life.”

A judge has denied a petition by Mississippi’s only abortion clinic to allow it to stay open by blocking a law that would ban most abortions in the state.

The Jackson Women’s Health Organization had requested a temporary restraining order that would allow it to remain open, at least while the trial is ongoing.

Judge Debbra Halford was appointed as a special judge to hear the case after Hinds County judges recused themselves.

Ahead of Tuesday’s hearing, the judge’s bailiff said the judge’s practice is to request a moment of prayer, which was provided by a pastor.

Rob McDuff, an attorney representing the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, argued before the judge that the Mississippi Supreme Court’s 1998 decision in Pro-Choice v. families, not state politicians.

“The trigger ban and the six-week ban, both of which would violate that right,” McDuff said.

McDuff asked the judge to decide whether this Mississippi Supreme Court decision is binding, regardless of the US Supreme Court’s decision.

“Which we clearly believe to be,” McDuff said.

Solicitor General Scott Stewart argued that after the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Roe v. Wade, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey were overturned, meaning Pro-Choice v. Fordice was also cancelled.

“The harm to plaintiffs does not outweigh the harm to the other side,” Stewart said.

Stewart said the Mississippi Constitution does not protect the right to an abortion, just as the United States Supreme Court does not protect that right. Both constitutions protect the right to privacy, he said.

“The trigger ban and the six-week ban are affirmative laws that were properly enacted by the Mississippi Legislature through proper constitutional legislative authority,” Halford said in his ruling. “Mississippi’s constitutional protection for abortion is based on the Fordice Court’s judicial interpretation of Section 32 of the Mississippi Constitution, which fails to mention abortion, relying significantly on Roe and Casey, neither of which remains good law. This Court cannot conclude that to bar the operation of two properly enacted laws out of deference to a case whose constitutionality has been so strongly challenged is in the public interest.”

The law to restrict abortions in Mississippi is set to go into effect Thursday.

An attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, which was one of the groups to file the lawsuit on behalf of the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, said in a statement: “These bans should have been blocked today. They violate the constitution of Mississippi. People in Mississippi who need abortions right now are in a state of panic, trying to get into the clinic before it’s too late. No one should be forced to live in fear like this.”

Governor Tate Reeves released a statement saying in part, “This law has the potential to save the lives of thousands of Mississippi’s unborn children. This is a great victory for life.”

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