MJI files suit to protect the right to life in Mississippi

JACKSON, Miss. (PRESS RELEASE) – The Mississippi Justice Institute (MJI) – a non-profit, constitutional litigation center and the legal arm of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy – filed a lawsuit today on behalf of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) which seeks to put an end to court-imposed, elective abortion policy in the state that led the charge to overturn Roe v. Wade.

On June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overruling Roe v. Wade, which held that the U.S. Constitution protected a right to seek an abortion, and returned control of abortion policy from federal courts back to the states. But a similar opinion by the Mississippi Supreme Court, named Pro-Choice Mississippi v. Fordice, still holds that abortion is a right protected by the Mississippi Constitution.

After Roe was overturned, Mississippi enacted a ban on elective abortions but the validity of that law is uncertain, given the Mississippi Supreme Court’s opinion in Fordice. As of today, elective abortions in Mississippi appear to be both statutorily illegal and constitutionally protected at the same time.

This legal uncertainty has placed Mississippi physicians in an impossible “Catch-22.” Several medical societies and board certification authorities have issued guidelines suggesting that it is unethical, and potentially punishable by the government, for physicians who oppose elective abortion to refuse to provide or refer patients to other providers for lawful, elective abortions. But whether elective abortions are “lawful” in Mississippi depends on whether the Mississippi Supreme Court’s opinion in Fordice is still valid.

That’s why AAPLOG partnered with MJI to file a lawsuit asking Mississippi’s courts to declare that abortion is not protected by the Mississippi Constitution.

“In the Dobbs case, Mississippi secured a major victory for human rights and the rule of law,” said MJI Director Aaron Rice. “Now it’s time to finish the job and protect the right to life in the state that took down Roe.”

AAPLOG is the largest organization of pro-life obstetrician-gynecologists in the world. AAPLOG includes obstetrician-gynecologists and other physicians, with over 6,000 medical professionals nationwide. AAPLOG members oppose elective abortion and are committed to the care and well-being of their patients including both pregnant women and their unborn children.

“We are proud to bring this important case on behalf of our members in Mississippi,” said Dr. Donna Harrison, the CEO of AAPLOG. “We believe that women and their unborn children deserve the best possible health care. Pro-abortion groups have tried for years to violate the conscience rights of our members by forcing them to provide elective abortions or refer patients to others for elective abortions. We hope to finally put an end to those intimidation tactics and to defend Mississippi’s elective abortion ban.”

The lawsuit was filed in the Chancery Court of Hinds County, Mississippi. Ultimately, the case will likely be decided by the Mississippi Supreme Court.

“It is a privilege to represent AAPLOG as they seek to protect the conscience rights of their members and the lives of the unborn,” said Andy Taggart, a founding partner of the law firm of Taggart, Rimes & Wiggins, PLLC, and an MJI volunteer attorney. “Mississippi has led the charge to protect life, and with this case, Mississippi will continue to lead the way.”

The Mississippi Justice Institute is a non-profit, constitutional litigation center and the legal arm of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy. It defends the personal, economic, and religious liberty of Mississippians in court to ensure that all forms of government are limited to their essential responsibilities as provided by the Constitution and to foster freedom and prosperity in the state.

A copy of the official lawsuit can be found here

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