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District Court Strikes Down Mississippi’s Ban on Abortion After 15 Weeks of Pregnancy

As has been widely reported, Paul, Weiss and co-counsel the Center for Reproductive Rights won a critically important ruling in federal district court in Mississippi, striking down the state’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy on Constitutional grounds. The law had been temporarily blocked in March following an emergency filing on behalf of Paul, Weiss client the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which is the last remaining abortion clinic in the state.

In his November 20 decision, U.S. District Judge Carlton W. Reeves described the challenged statute as “one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country” before declaring that it “infringe[d] on the Fourteenth Amendment due process rights of women…unequivocally.”  Judge Reeves also observed the law’s “disproportionate” impact on poor women and the disingenuousness of the Mississippi Legislature’s “professed interest in ‘women’s health.’” 

In conclusion, Judge Reeves quoted from a 2016 amicus brief that Paul, Weiss submitted to the Supreme Court in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellderstedt on behalf of 113 women lawyers: “the right to choose represents more than just the ability to make a medical decision; it is about ‘dignity and autonomy which are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.’”

As a result of this decision, a nearly identical 15-week ban passed in Louisiana last May will not go into effect, as the outcome there hinged on the Mississippi case.

Paul, Weiss and the Center for Reproductive Rights are also challenging several other Mississippi laws that together work to impose an undue burden on Mississippi women’s constitutional right to safe, legal abortion.  

The Paul, Weiss team on the matter includes litigation partners Roberto Gonzalez and Claudia Hammerman, counsel Aaron Delaney, associates Caitlin Grusauskas, Alexia Korberg, Crystal Johnson, Paul Gross, Amy Nemetz, Joseph Samuels, Ariel SpiererMelissa Alpert and former associate Joy Lurinsky.

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