Mississippi Governor Will Sign Pro-Life Bill Banning Abortions After 15 Weeks

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Mar 7, 2018   |   12:35PM   |   Jackson, MS

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant wants to make his state “the safest place” for an unborn child by signing the earliest abortion ban in the country.

The state Senate passed House Bill 1510 on Tuesday, moving Mississippi another step closer to protecting unborn babies from abortion after 15 weeks. The bill would create the earliest ban on abortions in U.S. by pushing back Mississippi’s current limit by five weeks. It would prohibit abortions after 15 weeks except when there are risks to the life or physical health of the mother, or fatal fetal anomalies.

“As I have repeatedly said, I want Mississippi to be the safest place in America for an unborn child,” Bryant said Tuesday on Twitter, WREG News 3 reports. “House Bill 1510 will help us achieve that goal.”

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves also supported the bill in a statement to WTKR News.

“Mississippians are committed to protecting the lives of unborn children, and this law will be a major step in accomplishing that goal,” Reeves said.

Before it can go to Bryant’s desk, the bill must pass the state House again. The House passed the bill in February, but the Senate made changes to it.

Here’s more from the local news:

Sen. Deborah Dawkins, a Democrat from Pass Christian, also pointed to science, calling abortion a medical procedure, “that’s it.”

“To me, it’s a medical issue not to be interfered with by the Legislature,” Dawkins said.

But several Senate Republicans said it’s an issue of protecting life.

Sen. Angela Burks Hill, a Republican from Picayune, called abortions after 15 weeks “barbaric” and “inhumane.” Sen. Chris McDaniel, a Republican from Ellisville, said the intention of the bill is to protect the lives of 15-week-old children.

State Sen. Joey Fillingane pointed to scientific advancements as a reason to support the bill. He said the U.S. Supreme Court agreed that states have an interest in protecting unborn babies once they are viable, and babies are viable outside the womb much earlier than they used to be.

“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 last week. “Who knows how far down the road technology would find us?”

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 said it will consider a legal challenge if the bill passes.

State records indicate about 200 unborn babies between 15 and 20 weeks are aborted every year in Mississippi.

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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, a majority of judges on the high court do not think unborn babies deserve a right to life.

Several years ago, North Dakota and Arkansas passed bills to prohibit abortions after an unborn baby has a detectable heartbeat (about six weeks), but federal courts struck down both laws.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals said the following about the bills: “Because there is no genuine dispute that (North Dakota’s law) generally prohibits abortions before viability — as the Supreme Court has defined that concept — and because we are bound by Supreme Court precedent holding that states may not prohibit pre-viability abortions, we must affirm the district court’s grant of summary judgment to the plaintiffs.”

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of the cases in 2016.