The Latest: Lawyers debate 15-week abortion ban in court

The Latest: Lawyers debate 15-week abortion ban in court
FILE - In a Friday, Feb. 2, 2018 file photo, Terri Herring, left, a long time Mississippi abortion foe, speaks with House Judiciary B Committee chairman Andy Gipson, R-Braxton, center, and Rep. Chris Brown, R-Nettleton, outside chambers at the Capitol in Jackson, Miss., following the passage of House Bill 1510, which makes the state the first to ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Mississippi's governor signed the nation's most restrictive abortion law Monday, March 19, 2018, and was slapped with a lawsuit less than an hour later. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Latest on a Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks’ gestation — the strictest in the nation (all times local):

11 a.m.

A federal judge has heard arguments from attorneys seeking and opposing an order that would temporarily block a new Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks’ gestation. The measure is the most restrictive abortion law in the United States.

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant signed a bill Monday, and it became law immediately. The state’s only abortion clinic quickly sued.

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves heard arguments Tuesday on the clinic’s request for a temporary restraining order to block the law. Clinic attorney Rob McDuff said a woman scheduled for an abortion Tuesday is at least 15 weeks pregnant.

Special assistant attorney general Paul Barnes argued the state has an interest in protecting maternal health and “unborn life.”

Reeves did not rule from the bench but said he would rule as soon as possible.


10:42 p.m.

A federal judge in Mississippi will hear arguments Tuesday over whether he should block the nation’s most restrictive abortion law less than 24 hours after it took effect.

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant signed House Bill 1510 on Monday, immediately banning most abortions after 15 weeks of gestation. He says Mississippi is “saving more of the unborn than any state in America.”

A physician at Mississippi’s only abortion clinic states in court papers that a woman 15 weeks or more pregnant is scheduled for a Tuesday abortion.

The law’s only exceptions are if fetal health problems make it “incompatible with life” outside the womb at full term, or if a pregnant woman’s life or a “major bodily function” is threatened by pregnancy. Pregnancies resulting from rape and incest aren’t exempted.