- The Washington Times - Friday, February 21, 2020

A federal court this week blocked a Deep South anti-abortion bill as state legislatures approve new restrictions that they hope will send the issue to the Supreme Court.

A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously struck down a Mississippi law Thursday that essentially would have banned abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. The ruling was expected, as the same appeals court had earlier blocked a Mississippi law that would have halted abortions after the 15th week.

Mississippi’s law was one of the “heartbeat bills,” and its six-week time limit was linked to the detection of a fetal heartbeat.

“All agree that cardiac activity can be detected well before the fetus is viable,” the 5th Circuit panel wrote. “That dooms the law. If a ban on abortion after 15 weeks is unconstitutional, then it follows that a ban on abortion at an earlier stage of pregnancy is also unconstitutional.”

The ruling comes after a federal district judge last year blocked an Alabama measure, considered the strictest anti-abortion legislation in the nation, that would have made abortion illegal unless the mother’s life was in danger and subjected doctors performing abortions to possible imprisonment.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a fight next month over a Louisiana law requiring abortion doctors to have permitting privileges at nearby hospitals, which critics contend would leave the state with one abortion provider.

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