Several state legislatures are considered proposals similar to Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, which is currently being reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Mississippi law prohibits most abortions after 15 weeks in seeming defiance of Supreme Court precedent in Roe v. Wade, which prohibited certain restrictions on abortion before the point of viability. The legal standard of viability generally falls around 24 weeks, although babies have survived after being born as early as 21 weeks.
The court is expected to issue a decision on the Mississippi law in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization by June. In the meantime, three states are considering similar laws.
“It’s no surprise that other states are looking to Mississippi,” Republican Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “When it comes to preserving the sanctity of life, our state’s law is the gold standard. We welcome our pro-life allies across the nation to stand alongside Mississippi as we promote a culture of life that will save millions of babies for generations to come.”
The Arizona state Senate passed legislation Tuesday that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks, according to AZ Central. Next it will move to a vote in the state’s Republican-controlled House. If the bill passes, it is reportedly likely that Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey will sign it into law.
The bill would make it a felony for doctors to perform most abortions after 15 weeks.
Florida is expected to enact a 15-week abortion limit that passed in the state House on Wednesday and is now moving to the state Senate for a vote, according to Reuters. Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signaled support for the legislation in January. Florida currently allows elective abortions up to 24 weeks — several weeks after a baby can survive outside the womb.
Another 15-week abortion ban passed in West Virginia’s House of Delegates on Tuesday and heads next to the Republican-controlled state Senate, according to West Virginia MetroNews (WVMN). The bill was crafted in anticipation of the Dobbs decision, Republican Virginia state Rep. Kayla Kessinger told WVMN.h
“States have a vested interest in determining what abortion should look like, when abortion should be available,” Kessinger said. “So why are we doing it now? We want the Supreme Court to know Mississippi isn’t the only state that wants to tackle this issue.”
The Mississippi law and the three bills it inspired make exceptions for fetal abnormalities and the life of the mother, but not for rape or incest. Reeves explained that victims of rape still have 15 weeks to access abortions.
Cases of fetal abnormality or the life of the mother are ultimately a medical decision, not a legal decision, Reeves said. “Only the mother and the doctor know the exact circumstances at the time the decision is made. The cases involving those exceptions would be very rare.”
The Mississippi law and the other 15-week bills it inspired would be allowed to stand if the Court either overturns Roe entirely or if it upholds the Roe but shifts the line of viability to 15 weeks, while such a move would not protect earlier abortion restrictions as seen in the Texas Heartbeat Act, which is under Supreme Court review in a separate case.
It is also possible that the Court will strike down the Mississippi law, endangering the other state laws it inspired.
The U.S. is one of only seven countries in the world — including China and North Korea — that allows elective abortions after 20 weeks, according to the Charlotte Lozier Institute.