Mississippi Bill Would Ban Abortions After Unborn Baby’s Heart Begins Beating

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Feb 5, 2019   |   4:45PM   |   Jackson, MS

A Mississippi lawmaker hopes to protect unborn babies from abortion in his state with a new heartbeat bill.

WREG News 3 reports state Rep. Robert Foster recently introduced state House Bill 529 to prohibit abortions after an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable, about six weeks of pregnancy.

If enacted, it would ban almost all abortions in the state. An unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable at about six weeks of pregnancy, though research suggests a baby’s heartbeat may begin as early as 18 days after conception.

Foster’s bill would allow exceptions when the mother’s life is at risk.

“I believe we should protect the lives of unborn children just the way we protect all other lives. In my opinion, there is no difference,” he told the local news.

“To me, I believe it is our responsibility to fight for people’s life and liberty and even the unborn. If that is something we go to court over, that’s a good cause to be in court,” Foster continued.

However, Rebecca Terrell, an abortion activist with the pro-abortion group CHOICES, claimed the bill is solely about women. She told the news outlet that the bill aims to “control women’s rights.”

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Pro-life lawmakers have introduced a number of heartbeat bills this winter, hoping for a victory with the new conservative U.S. Supreme Court. Bills have been introduced in Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said he would support a heartbeat bill in his state as well.

The bills almost certainly will face legal challenges if they become law. Earlier this month, a judge declared Iowa’s heartbeat law unconstitutional.

The goal of the legislation is to prevent the deaths of thousands of unborn babies every year. However, even some pro-life advocates admit that the success of the legislation is uncertain. North Dakota and Arkansas passed heartbeat bills several years ago, but federal courts struck down both laws.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals said the following about its ruling on the six-week abortion ban: “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.”

When courts rule against such laws, state taxpayers often are forced to reimburse pro-abortion groups for their legal fees.

There is more hope that the new conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court may consider an abortion ban, but it is difficult to say if it would for certain. Some legal scholars have speculated that the conservative court would be more likely to consider cases that gradually chip away at Roe v. Wade rather than reverse it completely.