Jackson Women's Health Organization v. Dobbs, No. 18-60868 (5th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
The Gestational Age Act, a Mississippi law that prohibits abortions, with limited exceptions, after 15 weeks' gestational age is an unconstitutional ban on pre-viability abortions.
The Fifth Circuit held that 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 court held that the law at issue is a ban on certain pre-viability abortions, which Planned Parenthood of Se. Pa. v. Casey does not tolerate and which presents a situation unlike that in Gonzales v. Carhart. The court explained that, with respect to bans like this one, the Supreme Court's viability framework has already balanced the state's asserted interests and found them wanting: Until viability, it is for the woman, not the state, to weigh any risks to maternal health and to consider personal values and beliefs in deciding whether to have an abortion.
The court also held that the district court was within its discretion in limiting discovery of the issue of viability and excluding expert testimony regarding fetal pain perception. Finally, the court upheld the district court's award of permanent injunctive relief.