A federal judge has blocked Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban that served as the basis for a similar law in Louisiana.
U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves in the order handed down Tuesday called Mississippi's strict abortion law "is a facially unconstitutional ban on abortions prior to viability." He granted a permanent injunction that bars the state from enforcing the law, which Reeves called "unequivocally" unconstitutional.
Mississippi is expected to challenge the ruling and continue arguing for the ban through the appeals process.
A bid to ban abortions after 15 weeks has become law in Louisiana.
Louisiana lawmakers earlier this year passed a similar 15-week ban but made it so that it would only take effect if a federal court upholds the Mississippi law. The contingency was added because of concerns over the cost of defending it in court.
Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat who supports abortion restrictions, signed the Louisiana bill into law in May and openly supported voiced support for the concept of banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Louisiana, which tends to be among states with the tightest restrictions on abortion access, currently prohibits abortion after 20 weeks.
If Louisiana's law were to go into effect, anyone who performed an abortion after the 15-week period could face up to two years in prison and a $1,000 fine. It contains no penalties for women who seek abortions.
Reproductive health advocates in Louisiana had slammed the proposed 15-week ban as a violation of the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that recognized abortion as a legal right.
In an often blistering order, Reeves took Mississippi lawmakers to task for passing the 15-week ban through.
"The State chose to pass a law it knew was unconstitutional to endorse a decades-long campaign, fueled by national interest groups, to ask the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade," Reeves wrote. "This Court follows the commands of the Supreme Court and the dictates of the United States Constitution, rather than the disingenuous calculations of the Mississippi Legislature."
He also lamented the state of male lawmakers deciding abortion laws.
"The fact that men, myself included, are determining how women may choose to manage their reproductive health is a sad irony not lost on the Court," he wrote. "As a man, who cannot get pregnant or seek an abortion, I can only imagine the anxiety and turmoil a woman might experience when she decides whether to terminate her pregnancy through an abortion."
Reeves took note of a "trigger law" that Mississippi has in place that would make abortion illegal in all cases if the Supreme Court overturns the Roe decision. Louisiana has the same trigger law. He also referred to the costs that taxpayers incur to defend laws that have been found unconstitutional already in the past — an issue Louisiana legislators tried to address through its contingency language.
"The State, of course, has the right to pass legislation that represents the interests of its citizens," he wrote. "The Court’s frustration, in part, is that other states have already unsuccessfully litigated the same sort of ban that is before this Court and the State is aware that this type of litigation costs the taxpayers a tremendous amount of money."