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Fifth Circuit Affirms Block on Mississippi’s 6-Week Abortion Ban

As reported by The New York Times, CNN and other media, Paul, Weiss and co-counsel the Center for Reproductive Rights won the affirmance, on appeal, of a preliminary injunction preventing the enforcement of a state law banning abortion after approximately six weeks of pregnancy, before most women even know they are pregnant. The law would otherwise have taken effect on July 1, 2019.

The law, a so-called “heartbeat ban,” would criminalize abortions performed after the point at which fetal cardiac activity is detected. It was passed just four months after Paul, Weiss and CRR won an important ruling—affirmed by the Fifth Circuit—striking down and permanently enjoining a ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy as unconstitutional under clearly established Supreme Court precedent. In its per curiam opinion affirming the preliminary injunction granted by U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves, the Fifth Circuit panel wrote “all agree that cardiac activity can be detected well before the fetus is viable. That dooms the law. If a ban on abortion after 15 weeks is unconstitutional, then it follows that a ban on abortion at an earlier stage of pregnancy is also unconstitutional.”

Mississippi is one of several states that are considering, or have enacted, similarly restrictive bans on abortion as part of a strategy to reach the Supreme Court in hopes of overturning Roe v. Wade.

The Paul, Weiss team on the matter includes litigation partners Claudia Hammerman and Alexia Korberg, counsel Aaron Delaney and Caitlin Grusauskas, and associates Crystal Johnson Geise, Heather Milligan, Avery Burrell and Clare Tilton.

February 21, 2020

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