Approved: Mississippi Legislature Sends Heartbeat Abortion Ban to Governor

An anti-abortion activist holds a model of a fetus during a protest outside of the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on May 7, 2015. Protesters are demanding Republican lawmakers approve a bill banning all abotions after 20 weeks.
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

The Mississippi state Senate passed legislation Tuesday that would prohibit abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually at the sixth or seventh week of pregnancy.

With approval by the state House and Senate, the bill now heads to Republican Gov. Phil Bryant for his signature.

“Mississippians value the sanctity of life and expect their elected leaders to fight for those beliefs,” said Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, reported WDAM. “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.”

The measure, which passed the state Senate, 34–15, largely along party lines, amends Mississippi code to provide that “a physician performing an abortion on a pregnant woman before determining if the unborn human individual has a detectable fetal heartbeat is subject to license revocation or disciplinary action.”

The bill provides an exemption for medical emergencies.

Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates condemned the bill in a statement, claiming abortion is the equivalent of “health care.”

“We expect this to be on the Governor’s desk as early as this week and it could wind up in litigation almost immediately,” said Felicia Brown-Williams, Mississippi state director for Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates. “This is absolutely devastating for the people of this state. People die every day in Mississippi because they lack access to health care.”

Lawmakers in Georgia are also considering a fetal heartbeat abortion ban, and Gov. Matt Bevin (R-KY) has already signed one into law.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a legal challenge to Kentucky’s law on Friday, the day Bevin signed the legislation, and a federal judge temporarily blocked the law from taking effect.

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