Roe v Wade: Mississippi judge refuses to block abortion ban

By Gareth Evans
in Washington

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An anti-abortion activist (Front) shouts through a megaphone in front of abortion rights activists behind at the Supreme CourtImage source, EPA
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America's top court overturned the constitutional right to abortion last month, paving the way for states to enact their own bans

A judge in Mississippi has rejected a request from the state's only abortion clinic to temporarily block a ban on almost all abortions.

It means that - providing there are no further legal developments - the ban will take effect on Thursday with the clinic closing the day before.

The ban can come into force because the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v Wade ruling last month.

The 1973 decision guaranteed the constitutional right to an abortion.

The decision to overturn it was met with scenes of protest and joy around the country, as both pro-choice and anti-abortion supporters reacted to a development that will transform abortion rights in America for years to come.

Millions of women will lose access to abortion as conservative states such as Mississippi seek to pass their own laws to ban the procedure.

The Mississippi "trigger law" was passed in 2007 and was contingent on the Supreme Court overturning Roe v Wade. Some 13 states had laws of this kind in place and have already severely curtailed or blocked abortion access in the weeks since.

Lawyers for the Mississippi clinic - the Jackson Women's Health Organization - had argued that the right to privacy under the state's constitution included a right to abortion.

But Judge Debbra Halford rejected the argument at a hearing on Tuesday. "The plain wording of the Mississippi Constitution does not mention abortion," she wrote in her decision.

Rob McDuff, an attorney for the clinic, told the Associated Press that they were considering whether to appeal.

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Inside a US abortion clinic in its final days

The lawsuit in the southern state was part of an escalation in activity in courts nationwide following the Supreme Court's decision. States are seeking to pass their own abortion laws, but several of these have been tied up in legal challenges.

In Florida, a ban on abortions past 15 weeks came into effect on Tuesday after a court order blocking its enforcement was put on hold.

And in Louisiana, the state's attorney general asked the state's top court to allow a ban on almost all abortions to be enforced after it was held up in the lower courts.