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Full 5th Cir. Denies Rehearing on 15-Week Abortion Ban

Jan. 17, 2020, 5:51 PM

The Fifth Circuit won’t rehear arguments over a Mississippi law that prohibits abortion after a fetus reaches 15 weeks’ gestation, the court announced Friday.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit didn’t explain why it’s letting a December panel decision holding the law unconstitutional stand.

The panel reasoned that, while states can regulate abortion before a fetus would be unable to live outside the womb—so long as the regulation doesn’t impose an undue burden on a woman’s constitutional rights —they may not ban the procedure outright. Mississippi’s law imposed a ban, it said.

Mississippi asked for a redo, urging all the court’s judges to hear arguments over the law’s validity. The state’s legitimate interests in regulating abortion should be taken into account when a court is considering the constitutionality of any law that restricts previability abortions, it said.

The law, which prohibits health-care providers from performing, inducing, or attempting to perform an abortion on an “unborn human being” if 15 or more weeks have passed since a woman’s last menstrual period, was “unequivocally” unconstitutional, the trial court said.

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and the Mississippi Center for Justice represented the health-care provider. The Mississippi Attorney General’s Office represented the state.

The case is Jackson Women’s Health Org. v. Dobbs, 5th Cir., No. 18-60868, rehearing denied 1/17/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mary Anne Pazanowski in Washington at mpazanowski@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Patrick L. Gregory at pgregory@bloomberglaw.com

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