by Steven Ertelt
March 3, 2006
Jackson, MS (LifeNews.com) — The Mississippi House on Thursday advanced a state ban on almost all abortions and added additional exceptions on rape and incest to satisfy Gov. Haley Barbour. The House approved the measure on a 94-25 vote and the Senate will vote on it and likely send it to Barbour early next week.
The measure had previously banned all abortions except in very rare cases when the life of the mother is in danger. But lawmakers engaged in a heated debate over adding the rape and incest provisions and ultimate approved them on a 62-56 margin.
During the debate, some worried that the amendments would threaten the legislation altogether.
"Realize what we have before us," Republican Rep. Eric Robinson said. "How many millions of souls are crying out because of this hideous practice called abortion?"
Senate Public Health Committee chairman Alan Nunnelee said he expected his Senate colleagues to concur with the legislation and send it to Barbour, who has pledged to sign it.
Susan Hill, president of the National Women’s Health Organization, an out-of-state business that runs the only abortion facility in the state, promised to challenge the abortion ban in court. It does about 3,000 abortions each year.
"We will challenge it," she told the Clarion Ledger newspaper. "We’re not going anywhere. We’re going to keep open."
The measure was originally amended in the state Senate to include the abortion ban. It previously was legislation to allow women to view an ultrasound before having an abortion — which persuades many to choose alternatives.
Pro-life groups, worried that the bill will simply be overturned in the courts, are concerned that the ultrasound measure has been deleted entirely.
Terri Herring, president of Pro-Life Mississippi, was disappointed by the loss of the ultrasound bill but also disagreed with adding the rape and incest exceptions.
"We were disappointed that the rape and incest exceptions were added," Herring told the newspaper. "I think it’s our responsibility to have a pure Pro-Life message that has to be you don’t kill a child for the crime of his father."
Herring said the Supreme Court doesn’t have the votes necessary to uphold an abortion ban and said that the ultrasound bill would have helped stopped abortions immediately, unlike the abortion ban which will be tied up in courts for years.
Barbour previously said he would sign the abortion ban but wanted the additional exceptions.
"It hasn’t gotten to my desk yet. When one gets there, we’ll find out, and I suspect I’ll sign it," Barbour told the Associated Press.
"But I would certainly rather it come to my desk with an exception for rape and incest. I think that’s consistent with the opinion of the vast majority of Mississippians and Americans," he added.
The Mississippi measure comes just one week after South Dakota lawmakers gave final approval to the same kind of abortion ban there. Gov. Mike Rounds is expected to sign the legislation soon.
Related web sites:
Pro-Life Mississippi – https://www.prolifemississippi.org