Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant wasted no time Thursday signing a law to ban abortions after an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable.
The heartbeat law, which passed its final hurdle in the state Senate on Tuesday, 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. Abortionists who violate the legislation could face criminal charges. The law allows exceptions for medical emergencies.
The Center for Reproductive Rights quickly announced plans to file a lawsuit blocking the life-saving measure.
“The term ‘heartbeat bill’ is a manipulative misnomer,” the pro-abortion group claimed. “These bills actually rob women of their choice to have an abortion before they even know they’re pregnant.”
Bryant said he will fight to defend the law and the rights of unborn babies.
“We will all answer to the good Lord one day,” the governor responded on Twitter. “I will say in this instance, ‘I fought for the lives of innocent babies, even under threat of legal action.’”
Earlier this week, state Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said he also supports the legislation.
“A beating heart clearly means life has begun and should be protected. I appreciate the work of both senators and representatives for getting this legislation to Gov. Bryant’s desk,” Reeves said in a statement.
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Several opponents pointed to a court decision that blocked Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban in 2018, but supporters argued that the law could be successful now that there is a conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court.
The high court “may swing in a very different direction now,” said state Sen. Joey Fillingane, sponsor of the bill, last month.
Heartbeat bills also have been introduced in Florida, Georgia, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas this year.
Some pro-lifers have renewed hope that the U.S. Supreme Court will uphold an abortion ban and overturn Roe v. Wade. Others, however, are hesitant because of concerns about losing the court battle and being forced to reimburse pro-abortion groups for their legal fees.
Last week, a federal judge blocked Kentucky’s new heartbeat bill. In January, a judge also declared Iowa’s heartbeat law unconstitutional. North Dakota and Arkansas passed heartbeat bills several years ago, but federal courts struck down their laws as well.
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.”
There is more hope that the U.S. Supreme Court may consider an abortion ban, but it is difficult to say if it would for certain – especially after Chief Justice John Roberts recently sided with the liberal justices on an abortion case.