Dec. 14 (UPI) -- A federal appeals court ruled against Mississippi's law banning abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy more than a year after the governor signed it into law.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower judge's ruling in November 2018, which called the abortion ban unconstitutional.
"In an unbroken line dating to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court's abortion cases have established (and affirmed, and re-affirmed) a woman's right to choose an abortion before viability," Appeals Court Judge Patrick Higginbotham wrote in the ruling.
"States may regulate abortion procedures prior to viability so long as they do not impose an undue burden on the woman's right but they may not ban abortions. The law at issue is a ban. Thus, we affair the district court's invalidation of the law."
Mississippi's only abortion clinic sued the state after Gov. Phil Bryant signed the ban into law in 2018. It made exceptions for medical emergencies and "severe fetal abnormality," bit not cases of incest or rape.
The Center for Reproductive Rights, which supported the plaintiffs in the case, praised the ruling.
With "this ruling, Mississippi ... should finally get the message," Center for Reproductive Rights attorney Hillary Schneller said. "Instead of wasting taxpayer dollars to defend multiple abortion bans that won't stand up in court, they should be working on other issues --- like addressing the state's alarming maternal mortality rates."
Earlier this year, Mississippi passed an even stricter abortion law, banning the procedure once a fetal heartbeat is detected. It effectively bans abortions after the eighth week of pregnancy.
A federal judge blocked that ban in May.