Mississippi Has Banned Abortions After 15 Weeks

Cheryl Sanders
March 20, 2018

In his State of the State Address in 2014, Gov. Phil Bryant announced a goal: "to end abortion in MS". It is called the Gestational Age Act, and it bans abortions after 15 weeks of gestation, except in the case of a medical emergency or a severe fetal abnormality.

The only exceptions to the measure are if a fetus or the mother has health problems and their lives are threatened. Bryant has frequently said he wants MS to be the "safest place in America for an unborn child". The new report showed that, from 2013 through 2015, the infant mortality rate in the United States ranged from 9.08 deaths per 1,000 infants born alive in Mississippi-which had the highest rate-to 4.28 deaths per 1,000 live births in MA, which had the lowest. Doctors who perform an abortion after 15 weeks and violate the law could have their medical liscenes suspended. In 2012, that same clinic, The Jackson Women's Health Organization, filed a lawsuit challenging a different bill Bryant signed into law. The law does not make exceptions in cases of rape or incest.

State Rep. Andy Gipson, chairman of the state House Judiciary B Committee, said they want to protect women's health by prohibiting later-term abortions, which are riskier to women, the report states.

'Under decades of United States Supreme Court precedent, the state of MS can not ban abortion prior to viability, regardless of what exceptions are provided to the ban, ' the suit states.

Mississippi's governor has signed the nation's tightest abortion restrictions into law. That's out of about 2,500 abortions performed statewide, mostly at the clinic.

"We are saving more of the unborn than any state in America, and what better thing we could do", Bryant said as he signed the bill. Both states count pregnancy as beginning on the first day of a woman's previous menstrual period.

'The winners (today) are those babies that are in the womb, first and foremost, ' Gunn said.

When asked if the state is prepared to bear the cost of a lawsuit, Gunn said, 'Absolutely'. "We are all about fighting to protect the unborn".

MS also requires in-person counseling and a 24-hour waiting period before receiving an abortion, which means women must make repeat trips to the facility - a fact that's especially burdensome for those living outside Jackson.

Katherine Klein, of the ACLU Mississippi, responded to bill to the Jackson Free Press, saying that "we certainly think this bill is unconstitutional". 'The 15-week marker has no bearing in science.

Several conservative groups, including the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, were consulted when the measure was being written. "We believe this law should be a model for the rest of the country because it's the same standard used by the rest of the world", MCPP acting president Dr. Jameson Taylor said in a statement.

The state House voted 79-30 for the bill and the measure passed with Republicans and some Democrats supporting it.

The U.S. Senate failed to pass a 20-week abortion ban bill in January. With 60 "yes" votes required to advance, the bill failed on a 51-46 vote.

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