by Steven Ertelt
March 16, 2006
Jackson, MS (LifeNews.com) — Mississippi lawmakers are seeking a compromise on a comprehensive abortion ban but a top House committee chairman says the move may wind up killing the bill. A Senate committee says the chamber needs to revisit some of the changes the House made to the bill.
Senate Public Health Committee Chairman Alan Nunnelee indicated the Senate has to review change to the abortion ban, which prohibits all abortions except those to save the life of the mother or in cases of rape or incest.
Nunnelee, a Republican, told the Associated Press that the "wisest course of action would be to go to conference," referring to a join conference committee to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the ban.
He indicated he wanted to restore Senate-approved language requiring an ultrasound to be performed before an abortion can be performed.
On the Senate side, lawmakers changed a bill putting that requirement in place into the abortion ban.
Officials from Pro-Life Mississippi say they prefer the ultrasound requirement because the Supreme Court is still, at minimum, 5-4 in favor of abortion and they worry the ban will just be overturned in court. They say the ultrasound bill could stop abortions now while pro-life advocates wait for another pro-life nominee to the high court.
Nunnelee also wants to make sure current state laws limiting abortions are not overturned while the abortion ban is tied up in court.
"This outright ban has been put right in the middle of Mississippi’s informed consent statute," he said. "There’s very high likelihood that the two items would be challenged in court."
However, House Public Health Committee Chairman Steve Holland, a Democrat, told AP he’s not sure the House will approve a finalized version of the measure. In fact he may not even bring up the abortion ban for a vote.
The House approved the abortion ban but had a terse debate on adding exceptions for rape and incest. Backed by Gov. Haley Barbour, the exceptions were eventually approved.
The House approved the measure on a 94-25 vote but the contentious vote for the rape and incest exceptions were approved only on a 62-56 margin.
Susan Hill, president of the National Women’s Health Organization, an out-of-state business that runs the only abortion facility in the state in Jackson, 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."
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 after South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds signed an abortion ban there that has only the life of the mother exception.
Related web sites:
Pro-Life Mississippi – https://www.prolifemississippi.org