A three-judge panel of the state Supreme Court has rejected the petition of Jackson Women’s Health Organization to allow the resumption of abortions as early as this week.

The Supreme Court justices have said that instead they will wait for arguments from Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch’s office to be submitted before ruling on the petition of the abortion supporters. The three-justice panel of James Kitchens, Dawn Beam and Kenneth Griffis has given Fitch’s office until July 25 to respond to a petition requesting that the Supreme Court rescind the abortion ban.

The abortion ban was put in place after Fitch’s office successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court for the reversal of Roe v. Wade, a decades-old decision that provided a national right to an abortion.

The abortion ban went into effect in Mississippi on Thursday. At the time the ban went into effect, Jackson Women’s Health Organization was the only abortion provider in the state. The clinic had filed a lawsuit asking that the ban been postponed based on a 1998 state Supreme Court ruling saying that there was a right to an abortion in Mississippi’s constitution separate from the right granted under the U.S. Constitution in Roe v. Wade.

Despite the state Supreme Court saying the right to an abortion existed in the Mississippi Constitution, Chancery Judge Debbra Halford of Franklin County refused to stop the ban from taking effect.

Now the clinic is asking the state Supreme Court to rule on the issue and is requesting a quick decision.

In a motion, attorneys for the clinic said, “By July 25, Mississippians will have been without abortion access for over two weeks. They will have been denied their rights under the Mississippi Constitution to privacy and bodily autonomy, as they are compelled by the state to endure the risks of pregnancy and bear children against their will. The deprivation of constitutional rights, and the harms of forced pregnancy and childbirth, are substantial and irreversible. Absent relief from this Court, the harm will continue.”

The three-judge panel rejected that argument, opting instead to wait for arguments from the AG, due July 25.

The abortion ban is in effect in Mississippi because of a trigger law passed in 2007 that went into effect if Roe v. Wade was overturned. Attorneys for the abortion clinic say the 1998 state Supreme Court ruling recognizing a Mississippi constitutional right to an abortion supersedes the trigger law and another Mississippi law banning abortions after six weeks.

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Bobby Harrison, Mississippi Today’s senior capitol reporter, covers politics, government and the Mississippi State Legislature. He also writes a weekly news analysis which is co-published in newspapers statewide. A native of Laurel, Bobby joined our team June 2018 after working for the North Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo since 1984. He is president of the Mississippi Capitol Press Corps Association and works with the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute to organize press luncheons. Bobby has a bachelor's in American Studies from the University of Southern Mississippi and has received multiple awards from the Mississippi Press Association, including the Bill Minor Best Investigative/In-depth Reporting and Best Commentary Column.