Jackson Women’s Health Organization files lawsuit to block Mississippi Trigger Ban

Jackson Women's Health Organization
Jackson Women's Health Organization
Published: Jun. 27, 2022 at 3:51 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi’s only abortion clinic has filed a suit in Hinds County Chancery Court to block the state’s trigger law banning abortions from going into effect.

Monday, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization filed the suit, asking the court to block the state from enacting the trigger law, which would prohibit nearly all abortions in the state.

The ban is expected to go into effect in 10 days and comes after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning Roe v. Wade.

The lawsuit also is asking the court to prevent the state’s six-week abortion ban from being enforced.

They argue that if the trigger law was enforced, the threat of “severe criminal sanctions on (abortion) providers will significantly chill the provision of abortion care in Mississippi,” additionally, JWHO would be forced to close, “leaving Mississippians without access to abortion care in the state.”

Individuals who knowingly perform or attempt to perform an abortion under the law could face up to 10 years in prison, according to Mississippi Code Section 41-41-45.

The suit was filed on behalf of the Jackson Women’s Health Organization by the Center for Reproductive Rights, the Mississippi Center for Justice, and the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.

“Across the country, we are already seeing the devastating harm and utter chaos the U.S. Supreme Court has caused people seeking abortion care, providers, and practical support organizations,” said Hillary Schneller, a senior staff attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Abortion remains legal in Mississippi. We will continue to work to ensure that every Mississippian can make their own decisions about their body, their lives, their relationships, and their families.”

According to NBC News, 22 states would ban abortion immediately upon the passage of Roe v. Wade, while another 13 states have trigger laws that would go into effect after the ruling was handed down.

Mississippi, along with Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, and Tennessee would ban abortion outright, while Florida would ban abortion after 15 weeks, NBC News reported.

The Washington Post reported on Monday that a Louisiana judge blocked the state’s trigger law from going into effect and set a hearing for July 8 in the Civil District Court for Orleans Parish.

Abortion rights activists in Florida have also asked a judge in that state to block the ban after 15 weeks, while the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona filed an emergency motion on Saturday to block an abortion ban there.

JWHO cites a Mississippi Supreme Court as precedent to block the trigger law from taking effect.

“The court reaffirmed in Pro-Choice Mississippi v. Fordice that ‘no right is held more sacred... than the right of every individual to the possession and control of his own person,’ and ‘no aspect of life is more personal and private than those having to do with one’s [own] reproductive system,’ and ruled that ‘the state constitutional right to privacy includes an implied right to choose whether or not to have an abortion.’”

“This holding by the Mississippi Supreme Court in 1998 is still standing and is biding precedent that prevents the state... from outlawing abortion regardless of the status of the current federal law,” attorneys for JWHO argue.

Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch announced Monday that she had certified the state’s trigger law. The law would ban most abortions in the state, but includes two exceptions: protection of the life of the mother and rape when there’s a formal charge.

The group is also asking the court to block the state’s six-week abortion ban. “Many people do not even know they are pregnant before six weeks. That ban was preliminarily enjoined by a federal district court in the Southern District of Mississippi and that injunction was affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit,” attorneys wrote. “However, that injunction could be lifted in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs.”

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