Published July 23, 2004
JACKSON, Miss. – A federal judge on Friday blocked Mississippi from enforcing a new law that bars late-term abortions at abortion clinics, instead requiring patients to go to hospitals or outpatient surgical facilities.
U.S. District Judge Tom S. Lee said the law did nothing new to protect patient health.
Jackson Women's Health Organization (search) sued June 29 to have the law declared unconstitutional. The judge had issued a temporary restraining order July 2 and a preliminary injunction Friday.
The new law barred abortions at abortion clinics starting at 13 weeks' gestation. Previously, abortions were allowed there at up to 16 weeks' gestation.
The state contended the law was enacted to move late-term abortions from abortion clinics to facilities better equipped to ensure the safety of patients.
Simon Heller, an attorney with the Center For Reproductive Rights (search) in New York, said an outpatient clinic without abortion experience was a poor choice compared to a licensed clinic where the procedure has been done for years.
He also said the new law would diminish access to abortions, forcing women seeking late-term procedures to go outside the state.