U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves today overturned Mississippi’s abortion law banning abortion after 15 weeks, writing that the lawmakers knew the law to be unconstitutional and that their “professed interest in ‘women’s health’ is pure gaslighting.”

Mississippi’s lawmakers “are proud to challenge [Roe v. Wade] but choose not to lift a finger to address the tragedies lurking on the other side of the delivery room: our alarming infant and maternal mortality rates,” Reeves wrote.

Federal abortion law is that it is legal until fetal viability, at 23 to 25 weeks. A fetus 15 weeks in gestation is not viable. Some women don’t even know they’re pregnant at 15 weeks gestation. The Mississippi law made no exceptions for rape or incest.

“The fact that men, myself included, are determining how women may choose to manage their reproductive health is a sad irony not lost on the Court,” Reeves wrote. 

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The judge said the legislation “is closer to the old Mississippi — the Mississippi bent on controlling women and minorities. The Mississippi that, just a few decades ago, barred women from serving on juries “so they may continue their service as mothers, wives, and homemakers.”  … The Mississippi that, in Fannie Lou Hamer’s reporting, sterilized six out of ten black women in Sunflower County at the local hospital — against their will. … And the Mississippi that, in the early 1980s, was the last State to ratify the 19th Amendment — the authority guaranteeing women the right to vote.”

Arkansas legislators passed an even more limiting bill that would have made abortion illegal after 12 weeks of pregnancy. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld lower court decisions to throw out the law. And as in Mississippi, the lawmakers pretend their bills are drawn up with women’s health in mind. But, as the last legislative session’s bill to make the safest form of abortion illegal proves, the bills are nothing of the sort.