Mississippi State Senate Committee Passes Pro-Life Bill Banning Abortions After 15 Weeks

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Feb 28, 2018   |   12:50PM   |   Jackson, MS

A bill to prohibit abortions after 15 weeks is on its way to the Mississippi Senate this week.

The Mississippi Senate Public Health Committee passed the legislation Tuesday, following the state House approval earlier this month, Reuters reports.

State House Bill 1510 would create the earliest ban on abortions in any state in the U.S. by pushing back Mississippi’s current limit by five weeks. The bill would prohibit abortions after 15 weeks except when there are risks to the life or physical health of the mother, or fatal fetal anomalies.

State records show about 200 abortions a year are performed on unborn babies who are between 15 and 20 weeks in Mississippi.

“The United States Supreme Court … has indicated that the state has a couple of interests when it comes to regulating abortion,” state Sen. Joey Fillingane told Mississippi Today. “One is protecting the health and life of the mother. Another is protecting the potentiality of human life.”

The legislation appears likely to pass, and Gov. Phil Bryant said he will sign it.

Owners of Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the only abortion clinic in the state, said they do abortions up to 18 weeks. The abortion center is considering a legal challenge if the bill passes.

However, pro-life lawmakers expressed hope that the legislation could withstand a court challenge.

Here’s more from the local news:

Due to advances in medical technology, Fillingane says, 20 weeks is generally seen as the earliest point of viability for a fetus. In the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, the Supreme Court held that abortion should be legal until a fetus was viable.

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But Fillingane added that viability at 15 weeks no longer seems impossible.

“Abortion is one of the areas where technology is really driving the debate. Of course religion is important and driving it, too. But I think technology has pushed the timeline further and further (up),” Fillingane said. …

“Assuming this bill were to become law, these challenges take two to three years to make their way up to the Supreme Court,” Fillingane said. “Who knows how far down the road technology would find us?”

At this point, it is unclear if such a bill would withstand a court challenge. President Donald Trump promised to appoint conservative judges to the U.S. Supreme Court, and pro-life advocates praised his choice of Neil Gorsuch; however, there still is a majority of judges on the high court who do not think unborn babies deserve a right to life.