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Mississippi to Appeal 15-Week Abortion Ban to US Supreme Court, AG Lynn Fitch Says, Setting Up Possible Roe Fight

Mississippi's new attorney general, Lynn Fitch, met with US Attorney General Bill Barr recently. Photo courtesy Lynn Fitch for Mississippi. Social media photo of the US Supreme Court by Joe Ravi (Wikimedia Commons).

Mississippi will ask the US Supreme Court to reverse two lower court decisions that struck down its 2018 ban on abortions after 15-weeks. The State’s new attorney general, Republican Lynn Fitch, announced her plans late afternoon on January 17.

If the Supreme Court accepts the case, it could set up a fight over Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that guaranteed women the right to an abortion.

“I am committed to defending this law and will appeal the decision to the United States Supreme Court,” Fitch wrote in a tweet that apparently confused the 5th Circuit US Court of Appeals’ decision on the 15-week ban with a case it has yet to hear involving the State’s separately-passed 2019 “heartbeat law,” which effectively bans abortions at around six weeks.

Earlier today, the 5th Circuit declined to reconsider its decision to strike down the 15-week ban. In its decision in December, the court found that Mississippi’s 2018 law would outright ban many pre-viability abortions. Mississippi’s only abortion clinic already stops performing abortions after 16 weeks gestation. A federal court in Jackson blocked the law late last year.

“States may regulate abortion procedures prior to viability so long as they do not impose an undue burden on the woman’s right, but they may not ban abortions,” the December ruling reads. “The law at issue is a ban.”

But the US Supreme Court has grown more favorable to anti-abortion arguments since Donald Trump appointed Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the bench. Four justices must agree to hear Mississippi’s case for it to go forward.

Earlier this month, Fitch became the first woman ever elected to serve as attorney general in Mississippi. The 5th Circuit is set to hear Mississippi’s six-week abortion ban next month.


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