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A federal judge has scheduled a Tuesday morning hearing to consider blocking new abortion restrictions approved by Mississippi on Monday.
The state's only abortion clinic sued within six hours of Republican Gov. Phil Bryant signing the nation's most restrictive abortion law, which bans most abortions after 15 weeks of gestation, the Associated Press reported.
The Jackson Women's Health Organization is seeking an immediate halt to the law, telling U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves that a woman who is 15 weeks or more pregnant is scheduled to have an abortion Tuesday afternoon.
The new law is unconstitutional, according to the lawsuit handled by the Center of Reproductive Rights. Current federal law does not allow states to impose such restrictions.
In 2017, the clinic performed 78 abortions involving a fetus 15 weeks or older. A total of about 2,500 abortions were performed statewide, mostly at the clinic, the AP reported.
The Mississippi law considers pregnancy to begin on the first day of a woman's previous menstrual period, meaning the abortion time limit begins two weeks before states whose abortion limits begin at conception.
"Under decades of United States Supreme Court precedent, the state of Mississippi cannot ban abortion prior to viability, regardless of what exceptions are provided to the ban," according to the lawsuit.
North Carolina, which has an abortion limit of 20 weeks, is the only other state that has the same definition of the start of pregnancy as Mississippi.
"We certainly think this bill is unconstitutional," Katherine Klein, equality advocacy coordinator for the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi, told the AP. "The 15-week marker has no bearing in science. It's just completely unfounded and a court has never upheld anything under the 20-week viability marker."
The only exceptions to the new Mississippi law are if a fetus has health problems making it "incompatible with life" outside of the womb at full term, or pregnancy threatens a woman's life or a "major bodily function." There is no exemption for pregnancies resulting from rape and incest.
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