The Mississippi Center for Justice, which joined the federal court challenge to Mississippi’s post-15 week abortion ban, praised yesterday afternoon’s decision by Judge Carlton Reeves to prohibit the ban from going into effect.

“These anti-choice laws interfere with the rights of women to make their own decisions about health care and their own decisions about whether and when to have children,” said Rob McDuff, a Jackson attorney who is working on the case on behalf of MCJ. “The burden imposed by these laws falls with particular force on poor women. MCJ joined this case as part of its mission to help poor people and promote economic justice in Mississippi.”

Judge Reeves in his decision pointed out that enforcement of the law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy “would disproportionately impact poor women, and Mississippi has a greater population of poor women than any other state in the country.” He added that: “Poor women are less likely to be able to leave the state to obtain the care they need.

The law was passed in March of 2019. The day it was signed by the Governor, the lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the State’s only abortion provider. The next morning, Judge Reeves granted a motion by the Clinic for a temporary restraining order to prevent the law from going into effect. His order has remained in place since then and now has been made permanent by yesterday’s ruling.

The Judge’s opinion also stated: “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. . . . 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.”

The Judge also noted the irony in the State’s claim that the ban is an effort to protect women’s health: “[T]his Court concludes that the Mississippi Legislature’s pro-fessed interest in “women’s health” is pure gaslighting. . . . Its leaders are proud to challenge Roe [v. Wade) but choose not to lift a finger to address the tragedies lurking on the other side of the delivery room: our alarming infant and maternal mortality rates.”

In addition to challenging the post-15 week ban, the Clinic has expanded its lawsuit to challenge a host of Mississippi laws and regulations that make it more difficult for women, particularly poor women, to obtain safe, legal abortions. The Clinic is represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Paul Weiss law firm in New York as well as by MCJ, which is based in Mississippi and has offices in Jackson, Biloxi, and Indianola.