Mississippi Bill Would Ban Most Abortions Past 15 Weeks Gestation

AP/Esteban Felix

A bill that would prohibit most abortions after 15 weeks of gestation has passed a Mississippi State House committee and is now headed to the full House for consideration.

The State House committee passed HB 1510, which states:

The United States is one (1) of only seven (7) nations in the world that permits nontherapeutic or elective abortion-on-demand after the twentieth week of gestation. In fact, fully seventy-five percent (75%) of all nations do not permit abortion after twelve (12) weeks’ gestation, except (in most instances) to save the life and to preserve the physical health of the mother.

“The Supreme Court has long recognized that the State of Mississippi has an ‘important and legitimate interest in protecting the potentiality of human life,’” the bill continues, “and specifically that “the state has an interest in protecting the life of the unborn.”

In 1973, the Supreme Court created a right to abortion, though none existed in the Constitution, in its decision in the case of Roe v. Wade.

Mississippi would be the first state to enact such a law. The state passed a ban on abortions past 20 weeks in 2014 with little debate.

“The risk to the mother is the prime driver in this bill,” said state House Judiciary B Committee Chairman Andy Gipson, reports the Associated Press. “I think the Supreme Court has recognized that the states have an interest in protecting human life.”

Diane Derzis, owner of the state’s only abortion clinic in Jackson, said her operations “would absolutely” be affected if the law is enacted.

“I think the bill is clearly unconstitutional,” she said. “I think that’s part of the plan, to get as much anti-abortion legislation headed up through the court system, hoping by the time it gets there, there’s another anti-choice justice.”

Felicia Brown-Williams, state director for Planned Parenthood Advocates Southeast, also said the measure was unconstitutional because, at 15 weeks, an unborn baby cannot live outside his or her mother’s womb.

“You can’t restrict access pre-viability,” Brown-Williams said.

Gipson, a Republican attorney and Baptist minister, observed that Mississippi’s ban on abortions past 20 weeks of pregnancy was not legally challenged.

The U.S. Senate failed to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act this week, a measure that would have banned most abortions past the 20th week of pregnancy throughout the country.

The GOP-led Senate voted 51 to 46 on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, but the measure did not obtain the 60 votes necessary to move it forward in the chamber. Two Republicans – Sens. Susan Collins (ME) and Lisa Murkowski (AK) voted with the majority of Democrats against the legislation.

President Donald Trump had called upon the Senate to pass the measure, which he referred to as “important legislation that would protect our most vulnerable,” and send it to his desk for his signature during his live address to the March for Life on January 19.

The president said:

It is disappointing that despite support from a bipartisan majority of U.S. Senators, this bill was blocked from further consideration. Scientific studies have demonstrated that babies in the womb feel pain at twenty weeks. The vote by the Senate rejects scientific fact and puts the United States out of the mainstream in the family of nations, in which only 7 out of 198 nations, including China and North Korea, allow elective abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.  We must defend those who cannot defend themselves. I urge the Senate to reconsider its decision and pass legislation that will celebrate, cherish, and protect life.

A recent Marist poll found 76 percent of Americans—including 92 percent of Republicans, 78 percent of independents, and 61 percent of Democrats—would restrict abortion to, at most, the first trimester of pregnancy.

Additionally, 51 percent of Americans identify as “pro-choice,” but even 60 percent of those agree with substantial restrictions on abortion.

The poll also found that 63 percent would prohibit abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, while 60 percent oppose the use of taxpayer dollars to fund abortions.



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