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15-week abortion ban heads to Governor’s desk

The Senate passed a bill, which if signed into law would make Mississippi the only state in the nation to prevent abortions after 15 weeks.

Language included in the bill points to the health risks for women who get an abortion, and an increased risk after 15 weeks.

 “Medical complications from dilation and evacuation abortions include, but are not limited to:  pelvic infection; incomplete abortions (retained tissue); blood clots  heavy bleeding or hemorrhage; laceration, tear, or other injury to the cervix; puncture, laceration, tear, or other injury to the uterus; injury to the bowel or bladder; depression; anxiety; substance abuse; and other emotional or psychological problems. Further, in abortions performed after fifteen (15) weeks’ gestation, there is a higher risk of requiring a hysterectomy, other reparative surgery, or blood transfusion.”

A section of the bill is dedicated to listing the development of the “unborn person”. It states that the heart begins to beat at 5-6 weeks, all physiological functions are present at 9 weeks, and the section ends with research about the fetus at 12 weeks.

“At twelve (12) weeks’ gestation, an unborn human being can open and close his or her fingers, starts to make sucking motions, and senses stimulation from the world outside the womb. Importantly, he or she has taken on “the human form” in all relevant aspects.  Gonzales v. Carhart, 550 U.S. 124, 160 (2007).”

The bill does implement a clause stating that an abortion can be performed after 15 weeks in the case of a medical emergency that puts the life of the mother at risk. The bill’s definition for “medical emergency” is provided, and can be read below: 

“Medical emergency” means a condition in which, on the basis of the physician’s good faith clinical judgment, an abortion is necessary to preserve the life of a pregnant woman whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury, including a life-endangering physical condition arising from the pregnancy itself, or when the continuation of the pregnancy will create a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.

The bill was passed through the House and will now head to the Governor’s desk to be signed. If the bill is signed, penalties would be placed on physicians who perform an abortion in Mississippi after 15 weeks of a pregnancy. Under the law, a physician who knowingly violates the 15-week law would lose his or her license to practice medicine in the state. The charge for violating the law would be a felony and could carry a 1-10 year sentence. 

Language in the law does state that the women getting the abortion “may not be prosecuted for conspiracy to commit any violation of this section.”

Lt. Governor Tate Reeves supports the bill and commends the legislature for passing HB 1510 in the effort to make Mississippi the “safest place” for unborn children.

“Mississippians are committed to protecting the lives of unborn children, and this law will be a major step in accomplishing that goal,” Lt. Gov. Reeves said. “I am committed to making Mississippi the safest place in America for an unborn child.”

Governor Bryant has also expressed his support for the bill, and after its passage in the Senate, he posted a tweet echoing Reeves’ comments.

“As I have repeatedly said, I want Mississippi to be the safest place in America for an unborn child. House Bill 1510 will help us achieve that goal,” the Governor’s tweet read.

While arguing to add an amendment for cases such as rape or incest, Senator Derrick Simmons said that the decision should be left to the women involved.

“I personally believe these decisions should be made between women, their families, and doctors,” he said. But, legislators are trying to make these decisions. I think we’ll be supporting women in Mississippi by adding this amendment.”

Simmons’ amendment failed, and the bill passed with a final 35:14 vote.

Pro-Life Mississippi released a statement in wake of the bill taking another step toward implementation. The organization says that while the law would be the strictest in the U.S, the 15-week law still falls short of countries around the world.

“Pro-Life Mississippi applauds the passage of HB1510, which prohibits abortions after 15 weeks. This bill recognizes the biological reality that babies in the womb at 16 weeks have a heartbeat and DNA unique from the parents. These human beings in the womb deserve the right to life, which is supported by this bill.

If HB1510 becomes law, Mississippi’s abortion laws will still be among the most lax in the world. Only 13 out of the 198 countries in the world allow abortions after the 12th week of pregnancy. HB1510 helps bring Mississippi closer to the global standard for protecting human life in the womb.”

Conversely, The Center for Reproductive Rights called the proposed law “unconstitutional”, and in a tweet, the organization says that they will fight the law.

“Mississippi just passed one of the earliest abortion bans in effect in the country. We will fight this unconstitutional ban and ensure that women can get the care they need,” the tweet says. 

The bill was held on a procedural motion before returning to the House.

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