Mississippi legislators have passed the nation’s strictest abortion ban with support from DeSoto County legislators, but legal challenges may be forthcoming in response, if it indeed becomes law.
House Bill 1510, called the Gestational Age Act, was approved by both houses of the Legislature on Thursday, which was International Women’s Day. The bill restricts abortions to the first 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Gov. Phil Bryant has said he would sign the measure into law when it reaches his desk.
The bill has does not make exceptions for rape or incest victims. It does exempt women in danger due to the pregnancy or whose fetuses would not survive the pregnancy.
Rep. Becky Currie, R-Brookhaven, was the principal author of the bill. Additional authors of the measure in the House included Rep. Dan Eubanks, R-Walls; Rep. Robert Foster, R-Hernando; Rep. Ashley Henley, R-Southaven; and Rep. Steve Hopkins, R-Southaven.
Rep. Dana Criswell, R-Olive Branch, also voted in favor of the bill when it was approved in the House on a 80-31 vote.
It passed in the Senate on a 35-14 vote but was held for more debate and sent back to the House before it would head to Bryant’s desk for his signature.
Sen. Kevin Blackwell, R-Southaven; Sen. David Parker, R-Olive Branch; and Sen. Chris Massey, R-Nesbit, all supported the bill in the Senate.
The House then approved the Senate revisions on a 75-34 vote.
Mississippi had already banned abortion procedures after 20 weeks of pregnancy and the state has just one clinic available.
A similar bill that restricted abortions after 12 weeks in Arkansas was blocked after a federal appeals court ruled it unconstitutional. Louisiana was also considering a 15-week restriction in its state Legislature.
The Center for Reproductive Rights has publicly stated it would sue the state once Bryant signs the measure, as has the Jackson Women’s Health Clinic, the lone location in Mississippi for abortions to be performed.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Mississippi has also come out against the measure and urged Bryant to veto it.
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.