Saturday, December 14, 2019

5th Circuit Strikes Down Mississippi's Anti-Abortion Law

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday struck down a Mississippi statute that prohibits abortions, with limited exceptions, after 15 weeks' gestational age.  In Jackson Women's Health Organization v. Dobbs, (5th Cir., Dec. 13, 2019), Judge Higginbotham writing for himself and Judge Dennis said in part:
In an unbroken line dating to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s abortion cases have established (and affirmed, and re-affirmed) a woman’s right to choose an abortion before viability. 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 law at issue is a ban. Thus, we affirm the district court’s invalidation of the law, as well as its discovery rulings and its award of permanent injunctive relief.
Judge Ho filed a separate opinion concurring in the judgment, but criticizing the district court's opinion.  He said in part:
[W]hat distinguishes abortion from other matters of health care policy in America—and uniquely removes abortion policy from the democratic process established by our Founders—is Supreme Court precedent. The parties and amici therefore draw our attention not to what the Constitution says, but to what the Supreme Court has held.
A good faith reading of those precedents requires us to affirm..... I am nevertheless deeply troubled by how the district court handled this case. The opinion issued by the district court displays an alarming disrespect for the millions of Americans who believe that babies deserve legal protection during pregnancy as well as after birth, and that abortion is the immoral, tragic, and violent taking of innocent human life.
UPI reports on the decision.