Mississippi judge set to hear challenge to abortion law

MISSISSIPPI — A Mississippi judge is set to hear a lawsuit by the state’s only abortion clinic.

The lawsuit seeks to block a law that would ban most abortions in the state.

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A temporary restraining order would allow the clinic to remain open, at least while the lawsuit is pending, reports said.

The law is set to take effect two days after the July 5 hearing and it says if Roe v. Wade is overturned, 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, reports said.

Mississippi’s trigger 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.”

The suit was filed Monday in Hinds County Chancery Court, three days after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in a case that originated in Mississippi.

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

All four Hinds County chancery judges recused themselves from the case. They cited rules that say judges should not handle cases that might present a conflict, but they did not specify what the conflicts would be.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Randolph late Thursday appointed another chancery judge, Debbra K. Halford, to hear the case. Halford is from a chancery court district in the southwestern part of the state.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.