By Alaina Perdon
Elm Staff Writer
In early March, the Mississippi State Senate passed the nation’s most restrictive abortion ban, prohibiting abortions 15 weeks after a woman’s last menstrual period. Exceptions were to be allowed for medical emergencies, but rape and incest victims would be turned away and referred to out-of-state clinics.
Cries of unconstitutionality were heard from healthcare professionals and activists alike immediately following the bill’s passage, citing it as a clear violation of the infamous Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling intended to protect both women’s health and the potentiality of human life.
Many healthcare professionals who were forced to send their patients to distant clinics across state lines also buttressed their argument with the 1992 Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey case, which ruled states could not “place an undue burden” on those seeking abortions.
Said cries did not fall on deaf ears. U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves temporarily blocked the measure immediately, while the Jackson Women’s Health Organization sued Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant for his violation of human rights. The case finally made it to federal court, where it was rightfully blocked on the grounds of being unconstitutional.
Mississippi’s attempt to undermine the authority of the Roe v. Wade ruling is undoubtedly a grotesque violation of the U.S. Constitution. Moreover, it is a glaring encroachment on women’s rights, poignantly exemplifying the flippant disregard for women’s health and safety prevalent within lawmaking systems.
By the same token, the principle of male legislators dictating the fate of female reproductive health illustrates the imbalance of gender power in the United States government.
Judge Reeves commented on the sad irony of the situation following the hearing.
He said “as a man, who cannot get pregnant or seek an abortion, I can only imagine the anxiety and turmoil a woman might experience when she decides whether to terminate her pregnancy through an abortion. Respecting her autonomy demands that this statute be enjoined.”
This action may have been small, but it also incites hope of a paradigm shift within the United States government. Under a presidential administration notorious for bold disregard of human rights, the population may cling to the sentiment that judges such as Carlton Reeves will remain cognizant of their power and use it to protect the powerless.