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Judge won’t block law banning most Mississippi abortions; set to take effect Thursday

A Mississippi judge has rejected a request by the state’s only abortion clinic to temporarily block a state law that would ban most abortions.

JACKSON, Miss — A Mississippi judge on Tuesday rejected a request by the state’s only abortion clinic to temporarily block a state law that would ban most abortions.

Without other developments in the clinic’s lawsuit, the law will take effect Thursday.

The clinic recently filed a lawsuit seeking to block the state from implementing the law, citing constitutional issues. That 2007 “trigger” law was stipulated to take effect if the U.S. Supreme Court ever overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. The nation’s high court took that momentous step last month.

Attorneys for the clinic requested a temporary restraining order to stop the trigger law, but Judge Debbra K. Halford rejected that request.

Gov. Tate Reeves issued the following statement: "A Mississippi state court has denied the abortion clinic and its out-of-state doctor’s request for an injunction of our state’s trigger law that would stop all abortions in the state except in the case of rape or to save the life of the mother.

The trigger law will go into effect on July 7th, as planned.

This law has the potential to save the lives of thousands of unborn Mississippi children. It is a great victory for life. I also believe it is critical that we showcase to every mother and child that they are loved and that their communities will support them. We have much more work to do. Every life has inherent dignity and Mississippi will continue to do everything it can to advance the fight for life.

I greatly look forward to working together with communities across Mississippi to continue building a culture of life and ensuring that every child has a chance to live.

God Bless!"

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

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A judge held a hearing Tuesday but didn't say how she would decide a lawsuit filed by Mississippi's only abortion clinic, which is trying to remain open by blocking a law that would ban most abortions in the state.

The law — which state lawmakers passed before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 1973 ruling that allowed abortions nationwide — is set to take effect Thursday.

RELATED: From Mississippi to the entire country: How the Gestational Age Act paved the way for SCOTUS to overturn Roe v. Wade

The Jackson Women's Health Organization sought a temporary restraining order that would allow it to remain open, at least while the lawsuit remains in court.

The closely watched lawsuit is part of a flurry of activity that has occurred nationwide since the Supreme Court ruled. Conservative states have moved to halt or limit abortions while others have sought to ensure abortion rights, all as some women try to obtain the medical procedure against the changing legal landscape.

Meanwhile a Florida judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked a new 15-week abortion ban days after it took effect in the state, an expected move following an oral ruling last week in which he said the law violated the state constitution.

In Mississippi, if Chancery Judge Debbra K. Halford grants the clinic’s request to block the new state law from taking effect, the decision could be quickly appealed to the state Supreme Court. Halford presided at a hearing without issuing a decision or saying when she would rule.

The new Mississippi law says abortion will be legal only if the pregnant woman’s life is in danger or if a pregnancy is caused by a rape reported to law enforcement. It does not have an exception for pregnancies caused by incest.

Mississippi was one of several states with a “trigger” law contingent on the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. The law was passed in 2007 and has never been challenged in court.

The clinic’s lawsuit cites a 1998 Mississippi Supreme Court ruling that said the state constitution invokes a right to privacy that “includes an implied right to choose whether or not to have an abortion.” That state decision was rooted in U.S. Supreme Court decisions in 1973 and 1992 that established or protected abortion rights but were overturned on June 24.

In arguments filed Sunday, the state attorney general’s office said the Mississippi Constitution does not recognize a right to abortion and the state has a long history of restricting the procedure.

“Text, history, and precedent all show that the Mississippi Constitution does not protect a right to abortion and that the laws here are valid,” the attorney general’s office wrote.

The lawsuit was filed three days after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in a case that originated in Mississippi.

The clinic has continued to see patients, but owner Diane Derzis said it will close if the near-ban on abortions takes effect.

RELATED: Here are new Mississippi laws going into effect July 1

RELATED: Protestors gather at Arkansas State Capitol on Independence Day

RELATED: One week after abortion ruling: clinic staff grapple with 'the reality'

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