Federal judge blocks Mississippi abortion law

Federal judge blocks Mississippi abortion law

Recently six American states - Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, Georgia, Iowa, and North Dakota - passed so-called "heartbeat bills," forbidding abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, which typically occurs six weeks into a pregnancy. These reports sparked outrage because at that point the embryo is about the size of a pea and many women do not even know they pregnant. What's more, the "heartbeat" claim is controversial, since embryos at that stage do not contain hearts.

"From very early on, different cells are programmed to do different things for what is eventually a fully functioning human body” OB/GYN and University of California professor Jennifer Kerns told The Cut. "These are cells that are programmed with electrical activity, which will eventually control the heart rate — they send a signal telling the heart to contract, once there is a heart." In other words, "cardiac activity" is detectable, not technically a heartbeat.

None of these draconian abortion bans have taken effect yet, but have already triggered protests across the country. Women explained why they had an abortion on social media, creating the trending hashtag #YouKnowMe. Celebrities pledged not to shoot projects in Georgia - which has a robust TV/film production industry - so long as their new anti-abortion law is in place. And on Friday, a federal judge in Mississippi dealt a blow to the anti-abortion movement by blocking the so-called "heartbeat" bill.

The law "threatens immediate harm to women's rights, especially considering most women do not seek abortions services until after six weeks," Judge Carlton Reeves said, per CNN. "Allowing the law to take effect would force the clinic to stop providing most abortion care... By banning abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, the law prevents a woman's free choice, which is central to personal dignity and autonomy."

Watch Busy Philipps speak out against Georgia's abortion law

The Center for Reproductive Rights, which represents Mississippi's only clinic, the Jackson Women's Health Organization, challenged the law in court. "Many women don't even know they are pregnant at six weeks, and even those who do will find it nearly impossible to obtain an abortion so quickly, especially in a state with just one clinic," Center of Reproductive Rights lawyer Hillary Schneller told CNN.

Schneller argued in court the law was "clearly unconstitutional." and in "defiance" of the Supreme Court precedent set by Roe v. Wade. In the landmark 1973 decision, the justices ruled that embryos/fetuses are not people and the Constitution's "right to privacy" protects women's right to seek an abortion. As such, the states may not place an "undue burden" on women. But that's what many red state Republican lawmakers such as Alabama governor Kay Ivey are doing with these new laws, in hope of overturning Roe v. Wade.

In addition, the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit on Friday against Alabama's controversial abortion law. Passed by 25 white male Republicans, and signed into law by Gov. Ivey, the measure outlaws abortions even in cases of rape or incest.