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Judge blocks challenge to Mississippi abortion trigger law, set to take effect

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A judge in Mississippi rejected a challenge to a trigger law banning abortion in the state. Tuesday’s ruling sets the stage for the law, which was originally passed all the way back in 2007, to take effect Thursday. The challenge came from the only abortion clinic in the state.

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“The irreparable harm that would befall our client Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which would be required to close this clinic, keep it closed because otherwise its doctors, its nurses, its staff, could be subjected to ten years in prison for just doing their job,” attorney Rob McDuff said Tuesday. “Its doctors and nurses could have their professional licenses taken away.”

Jackson Women’s Health Organization was set to close its doors at the end of its business day Wednesday, ahead of the Mississippi abortion trigger law taking effect.

The law says abortion will be legal only if the pregnant woman’s life is in danger or if a pregnancy is caused by a rape reported to law enforcement. It does not have an exception for pregnancies caused by incest.

“Women of Mississippi who do seek an abortion, who do make the decision that under the law, only they can make, not the state, about whether they should carry a pregnancy to term and give birth, they will be forced to do those things against their will, many of them,” McDuff said. “So that is irreparable harm.”

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The Mississippi law was never challenged after its passage. Jackson’s Women Health filed the lawsuit after last month’s Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade. The ruling was made in a separate case that also involved Jackson Women’s Health.

“If this suit were filed a month ago, if this hearing was two weeks ago, things would be very different. The plaintiffs would have a much different claim,” State Solicitor Scott Stewart said Tuesday. “But that’s because two weeks ago, there was a Roe v. Wade, there was a Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and there was a Pro-Choice Mississippi v. Fordice. That’s no longer true.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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