Mississippi is poised to become the state with the earliest abortion ban at 15 weeks gestation.
On Friday, lawmakers in the state House passed HB 1510, by a vote of 79-31, with some Democrats joining in with Republicans to approve it.
According to the Associated Press, Rep. Becky Currie, the bill’s sponsor, said about the 15-week cut-off for abortion, “At that time, it’s time to decide whether you’re going to carry this child or not.”
House Judiciary B Committee Chairman Andy Gipson (R) said the bill is just as much about protecting women as babies.
“Women deserve real health care, not some fake health care that involves the destruction of human life and a woman’s health,” he said.
Democrats who opposed the legislation claimed pro-life activists are hypocritical since they care little for children and women’s health later on in life.
“Do you feel the state of Mississippi really cares for our children, given the way they treat the born children in this state?” asked state Rep. Oscar Denton, according to AP.
“This is just another fancy way of telling a woman what to do with her body and when to do it,” state Rep. Sonya Williams-Barnes also said.
Felicia Brown-Williams, state director for Planned Parenthood Advocates Southeast, 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.
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 bill now heads to the state Senate for debate.
The U.S. Senate failed to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act in January, 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.