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5th Circuit Ct. of Appeals Hears 15 Week Abortion Ban Case
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5th Circuit Ct. of Appeals Lafayette Square, New Orleans

Mississippi's law to ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy is in the hands of justices with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. MPB's Desare Frazier reports.

Mississippi's only abortion clinic won a lawsuit to keep the 15-week ban on abortions from taking effect in 2018. The state is appealing the ruling to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Yesterday, both parties appeared before three justices to argue their cases. Attorney Hillary Schneller is with the Center for Reproductive Rights.

"Our argument is that as a ban on abortion well before viability, 15 week ban flies in the face of nearly five decades of clear Supreme Court precedent saying that before viability it is for the woman and not the state to make decisions about her pregnancy," said Schneller.

Schneller says viability is at the point where a fetus has a reasonable likelihood to live apart from the mother. She says that is usually at the earliest around 23 weeks of pregnancy. Lawyers with the Attorney General's office contend a federal court erred in not allowing them to present evidence about whether a fetus experiences pain. Again, Attorney Hillary Schneller.

"Our response is that the district court doesn't need to listen to the reasons the state has for banning abortion before viability because there can be no reason under decades of Supreme Court law," Schneller.

The Attorney General's Office said in a statement Mississippi's interest in protecting unborn life justifies the restriction after 15 week. They expect a decision with the next few months. A Mississippi law passed this year that would ban abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected was blocked by a federal judge. The state is appealing that decision as well.