A Mississippi abortion ban signed into law by Republican governor Phil Bryant in March says any physician who performs an abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected may lose their state medical licenses. The law only allows abortion if the state decides a pregnancy endangers a woman's life or "one of her major bodily functions," and allows no exceptions for pregnancies induced by rape or incest.
"Other states are following Mississippi with heartbeat bills," Bryant tweeted on Sunday. "A new national movement has begun. We now have a President that stands for the unborn. Look for the left to increase their hateful attacks."
The Jackson Women's Health Organization says the law is unconstitutional under the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion nationwide.
Abortion opponents have pushed new restrictions in several states this year — the most recent being Alabama, which just last week passed a law banning nearly all abortions — in the hopes that a case will make its way to the high court. They are emboldened by new conservative justices on the court appointed by President Donald Trump, who tweeted over the weekend that he opposes abortion except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the life of the pregnant woman.
U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves is scheduled to hear arguments on Tuesday over the clinic's request for him to stop the law from taking effect July 1. It was unclear whether Reeves would issue a decision immediately. If Reeves were to temporarily block the law, he would hear arguments later on the larger question of constitutionality. In 2018, Mississippi enacted a law to ban abortions after 15 weeks, and Reeves struck it down, writing that it "unequivocally" violates women's constitutional rights.
Governors in Georgia, Kentucky and Ohio have also signed bans on abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. Missouri lawmakers passed an eight-week ban Friday. Other states, including Louisiana, are considering similarly restrictive laws. None of the laws that have been signed have yet taken effect. All are expected to be blocked while challenges work their way through courts.
PHOTO: Protesters rally in the rotunda of the State Capitol in Austin, Texas July 12, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Stone