SCOTUS announces it will take up Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban

Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 10:14 AM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - All eyes will be watching Mississippi in the debate over abortion as the United States Supreme Court is set to take up the state’s 15-week abortion ban.

The United States Supreme Court has taken up multiple abortion-related cases since Roe v. Wade in 1973. But Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban is the first ban they’ve agreed to consider.

Governor Tate Reeves says it’s a good day for those who are pro-life.

“This particular case doesn’t actually seek to overturn Roe v. Wade,” said Reeves in an exclusive interview Monday. “Although people like me would love for that to be the case. But it’s a recognition that the science has changed.”

Reeves was Lt. Governor when the law passed and was alongside then-Governor Phil Bryant when he signed it into law.

The state’s only remaining threshold has a threshold of 16 weeks. So, we asked if that was part of the conversation when the 15-week ban was passed or if the end goal was to just make it so that no clinic could operate.

“If this were to become law, the clinic could make changes to the mechanisms and timing with which they allow for the procedures they perform,” said Reeves. “If I were king of the world, we wouldn’t have any abortions in our state or the country. But that’s not what this argument’s about and that’s not what this lawsuit is about.”

The same legislature would attempt a more restrictive ban the following year.

We also asked if there were any conversations of a hope that at some point one of the state’s controversial abortion bans would make it to the high court.

“There are states all across this country that have passed similar legislation to what we’re discussing now,” noted Reeves. “So, we always knew there was the chance that one of two things would happen. We had two paths here. Either this would be enacted into law and allowed to pass and become the law of the land in Mississippi.

“But that second path is going through the court system and getting to the supreme arbiter of justice in our land which is the United States Supreme Court to review this particular case and we’re fortunate that the court has agreed to take this up and I hope rule in our favor.”

But abortion-rights activists say the potential impacts will reach beyond Mississippi.

“They cannot uphold this law in Mississippi without overturning Roe’s core holding,” said Nancy Northup, Center for Reproductive Rights President and CEO.

“If you care about women, you don’t take away safe and legal abortions from them,” she continued. “You make them more accessible so they can have them when they need them. Women’s lives matter. And that’s how you show them is you make abortions safe and legal for them. Abortion is health care.”

Abortion is still legal in Mississippi and the state’s only abortion clinic remains open. If Roe v. Wade were overturned, Mississippi has trigger language in the law that would make all abortions illegal.

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