Lee Blocks New Abortion Law

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A federal judge has thrown out a Mississippi law that prohibits early second-trimester abortions at abortion clinics.

U.S. District Judge Tom S. Lee ruled the law unconstitutional in an order released Wednesday.

Last year, Lee temporarily blocked enforcement of the law, which would have required patients to go to hospitals or outpatient surgical facilities for the procedure. The law would have taken effect July 1, 2004.

The state contended the law was enacted to move early second-trimester abortions from abortion clinics to facilities better equipped to ensure the safety of patients.

The law barred abortions at abortion clinics starting at 13 weeks' gestation. Previously, abortions for up to 16 weeks' gestation were allowed at the clinics.

The Jackson Women's Health Organization and the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York wanted the law declared unconstitutional.

Jackson Women's Health Organization is Mississippi's only operating abortion clinic. Another clinic closed last summer.