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The Latest: Judge questions Mississippi 6-week abortion ban

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The Latest on a hearing in a lawsuit to block a Mississippi abortion law that bans the procedure after 6 weeks (all times local):

12:05 p.m.

A federal judge who struck down Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban last year is sharply questioning a new state law that bans abortions even earlier.

The new law prohibits most abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. That’s at about six weeks, when many women may not know they are pregnant.

During a hearing Tuesday, attorneys for the state’s only abortion clinic asked U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves to block the law from taking effect July 1. He said he would decide soon, but didn’t specify when.

Reeves noted the law has no exceptions for rape or incest. He asked state attorneys whether the law would require a 10- or 11-year-old girl who is impregnated by rape to carry the pregnancy to term if she waits too long to tell anyone what happened.

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12:10 a.m.

A federal judge who struck down Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban last year is hearing arguments about a new law that puts the ban even earlier.

The law would prohibit most abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, at about six weeks, when many women may not know they’re pregnant.

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant signed it in March. The state’s only abortion clinic sued the state.

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves is hearing arguments Tuesday on the clinic’s request that he block the law from taking effect July 1. It’s unclear whether Reeves will issue an immediate decision.

Governors in Kentucky, Ohio and Georgia have signed bans on abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. Alabama’s governor signed a measure making abortion a felony in nearly all cases.

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