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Paul, Weiss and CRR Win Fifth Circuit Appeal of Mississippi’s Ban on Abortion After 15 Weeks of Pregnancy

As reported by The New York Times, The Washington Post and other news outlets, Paul, Weiss and co-counsel the Center for Reproductive Rights won an important ruling in the Fifth Circuit upholding a Mississippi district court decision striking down the state’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The constitutional challenge was brought on behalf of Paul, Weiss client the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the last remaining abortion clinic in the state.

“In an unbroken line dating to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s abortion cases have established (and affirmed, and re-affirmed) a woman’s right to choose an abortion before viability,” U.S. Circuit Judge Patrick Higginbotham wrote in the December 13 ruling. “States may regulate abortion procedures prior to viability so long as they do not impose an undue burden on the woman’s right, but they may not ban abortions.” The 15-week ban was passed last year and struck down by a district court in November 2018.

In March 2019, just a few months after the district court declared the 15-week ban unconstitutional, Mississippi passed an even more restrictive law, banning abortion after just six weeks gestation. Paul, Weiss and CRR are challenging this so-called “fetal heartbeat ban,” which the district court also struck down. The state has appealed that decision, and oral argument in the Fifth Circuit is scheduled for the week of February 3. Additionally, Paul, Weiss and CRR are currently challenging other aspects of Mississippi’s abortion regime that place substantial obstacles in the way of women attempting to exercise their constitutional right to obtain safe, legal abortion in Mississippi.

The Paul, Weiss team on the matter includes litigation partner Claudia Hammerman, partner-elect Alexia Korberg, counsel Aaron Delaney and Caitlin Grusauskas and associates Shane Avidan, Crystal Johnson Geise, Heather Milligan, Samantha Weinberg, Avery Burrell, Clare Tilton, Emily Born, Daniela Lorenzo, Kelsey Sweeney, Simona Xu and Amanda Valerio.

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