Reproductive rights have been hanging in the balance for the past several years especially in the most conservative states, and even more so since Mr. Trump was elected to office, ushering in a far right-wing Congress and administration. Now, one state is poised to pass the most restrictive abortion bill in the U.S. thus far.
On Thursday, Mississippi lawmakers passed a bill banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The Mississippi House approved the measure in a 75 to 34 vote. The Senate approved the bill on Tuesday. Mississippi’s current law prohibits abortions after 20 weeks, and if signed into law, it will be the country’s most restrictive abortion ban.
After the ban was passed, Mississippi’s attorney general commented that it will be a tough bill to defend. According to The Associated Press:
‘Jim Hood says he expects “an immediate and expensive legal challenge” to the bill, which has now passed both Republican-controlled chambers of the legislature. The Democratic attorney general notes that measures in other states banning abortions after 20 weeks have been struck down. Mississippi also has such a ban, but it has not been challenged yet.’
Republican Governor Phil Bryant has promised to sign the bill into law. Gov. Bryant has said that he wants “Mississippi to be the safest place in America for an unborn child.”
The Associated Press reported:
‘The owner of Mississippi’s only abortion clinic has vowed to sue.
‘There are two exceptions to the bill: if the fetus has a health problem that would prevent it from surviving outside the womb at full term, or if the pregnant woman’s life or a “major bodily function” is threatened by the pregnancy. Pregnancies as a result of rape and incest would not be exempt.’
States continue their attempts to restrict abortion before the fetus is viable although the Supreme Court has been saying for decades that abortions cannot be banned before a fetus can survive outside the womb on its own. Legals experts think that especially if Mississippi passes the 15-week ban, which most likely will happen, it gives the Supreme Court an invitation to revisit its previous rulings.
Pro-choice advocates say the court isn’t likely to do so, but those who back the abortion ban bill are hopeful that the court would clarify it’s stance and allow states to begin restricting abortion earlier in pregnancy.
In 2016, 14 states passed laws making it more difficult to obtain an abortion. Nine states introduced measures to ban all of most abortions. Alabama, Mississippi, and West Virginia, all banned the most common method of second-trimester abortions although 13 have tried.
Louisiana and Kentucky increased the waiting period for obtaining an abortion, and South Carolina and South Dakota both voted to enact abortion bans after 20 weeks. Indiana, which already has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation, made it illegal to abort a fetus because of Down Syndrome or race or gender.
According to The Washington Post:
‘Things are happening so quickly at the state level, some advocates for a woman’s right to choose say they feel as if they can’t keep up. “There are not enough attorneys to challenge all these restrictions,” said Elizabeth Nash, a senior researcher with the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights research group. In a statement, Dawn Laguens of Planned Parenthood said “these laws are part of a broader agenda to ban safe, legal abortion completely.”‘
Here’s what Twitter had to say:
Featured image is a screenshot from Youtube