Mississippi close to having most-restrictive abortion law
Mississippi lawmakers Thursday passed what would be the nation’s most-restrictive abortion law, making the procedure illegal in most cases after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The state’s only abortion provider pledged to sue, and the attorney general said he expected a tough legal battle ahead.
Lawmakers in the Republican-controlled Legislature appeared to not only expect, but to encourage, such challenges in hopes the issue will eventually make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The House voted 75-34 in favor of the bill , and Republican Gov. Phil Bryant said again Thursday that he would sign it. Because of necessary paperwork, it won’t reach his desk until next week. The Senate passed the measure Tuesday.
“We are protecting more women, we are protecting more children,” said House Judiciary B Committee Chairman Andy Gipson, a Braxton Republican. “By 15 weeks, you have a child in the womb who has a heartbeat, who for all practical purposes has taken on the form of a person.”
Under the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling establishing a nationwide right to abortion, states were permitted to restrict abortions after viability – the point when the fetus has a reasonable chance of surviving under normal conditions outside the uterus. The ruling offered no legal definition of viability, saying it could range between 24 and 28 weeks into a pregnancy.
Abortion-rights-groups immediately spoke out against the bill, saying it is not legally or medically sound.
“We certainly think this bill is unconstitutional,” said Katherine Klein, equality advocacy coordinator for the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi.