If Mississippi lawmakers get their way, abortion will be banned in the state after just 15 weeks of pregnancy.
On Tuesday, Mississippi state senators passed a bill to prohibit abortion in the state after 15 weeks. Though the state House already approved a version of the abortion ban back in February, the bill will be sent back to legislators for further debate, since state senators stripped it of provisions that would introduce criminal penalties for physicians who perform abortions after 15 weeks. Still, the bill is expected to encounter little resistance among lawmakers.
Mississippi would be the first state to enact a law outlawing abortion so early on in a pregnancy.
The bill will need the signature of Gov. Phil Bryant, but the Republican governor indicated on Twitter Tuesday that he’s willing to sign it. In a tweet responding to an article about the bill, Bryant wrote, “I want Mississippi to be the safest place in America for an unborn child.”
Abortion rights advocates routinely rank Mississippi among the toughest states to get an abortion in the United States. It’s one of 17 states that already outlaw abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, except in rare cases. People seeking abortions must undergo an ultrasound, and wait 24 hours between their initial appointment and receiving the procedure. Lawmakers have also voted to ban abortion in Mississippi, if Roe v. Wade — the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion — were to ever be overturned. (President Doanld Trump has pledged to only appoint Supreme Court justices who would do so.)
Mississippi is also one of seven states to have just one abortion clinic. That clinic, Jackson Women’s Health, doesn’t perform abortions on patients who are past 16 weeks of pregnancy. The clinic will be forced to turn away patients and refer them for out-of-state care if Mississippi passes its ban, owner Diane Derzis told the Clarion Ledger.
“Phil Bryant has never seen an abortion bill he didn’t like,” Derzis said. “We will be planning to sue.”
Republican lawmakers, however, say the bill will save lives. State Sen. Angela Burks Hill told the Jackson Free Press that abortions after 15 weeks are “inhumane” and “barbaric.”
Under the bill, abortions will be permitted after 15 weeks of pregnancy if there’s a medical emergency or if the fetus has a medical abnormality that would render it “incompatible with life outside the womb.” The bill does not make exceptions for rape or incest.
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