Currie’s abortion bill before appeals court

Published 8:02 pm Monday, October 7, 2019

Mississippi has a fetal heartbeat abortion ban on the books, but it is still fighting for a 15-week abortion ban in court. The 15-week abortion ban, passed in the Legislature in 2018, was authored by Rep. Becky Currie of Brookhaven.

The state’s only abortion clinic sued after the bill was signed into law and U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves blocked the law from taking effect last year, saying it “unequivocally” violates women’s constitutional rights because it bans abortion weeks before viability, The Associated Press reported.

Attorney Paul Barnes addressed the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Monday about the state’s law that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

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Barnes said the case’s outcome was “preordained” as soon as Reeves determined he wasn’t going to consider evidence outside of viability, AP reported.

Mississippi is arguing before the appeals court that the federal court erred in not letting the state present evidence about whether a fetus experiences pain. The state will ask the appeals court to overturn Reeves’ ruling and allow the law to take effect.

“By prohibiting the taking of preborn life after 15 weeks gestation, Mississippi exercises its right to affirm the value of human life at all stages, but particularly at a stage when a preborn baby has all the physical attributes of a child after birth and only needs additional time to grow to survive outside its mother’s womb,” an argument filed by Gov. Phil Bryant states.

Currie, a registered nurse, said in 2018 that about 200 abortions past the 15-week gestation period were performed in Mississippi the previous year.

“This bill could save 200 lives,” she said then.

On Facebook Monday, Currie said if the court upholds the bill, hundreds of lives will be saved every year.

“Please pray that these judges know that at three months of life these babies feel pain and deserve the life that God has given them,” she wrote.

Mississippi’s ban is one of many passed in conservative states recently. Most, if not all, are tied up in court. At least one — Louisiana’s bill — depends upon the decision reached in Mississippi’s case.

The heartbeat abortion — which bans most abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected — will also face an uphill battle through the courts.

Both of these cases will test the limits of Roe v. Wade, which allows abortions until viability. That’s largely been established at 24 weeks, but with advances in medical technology that could soon change.

Proponents of the bans are hoping a changing Supreme Court makeup could spell the end of the 1973 decision. Currie has said the state is ready to take the case to the high court. This week’s decision by the appeal’s court will let Mississippi — and the rest of the nation — know if that is necessary.