The Mississippi Senate passed the earliest abortion ban in the country Tuesday, which would prohibit abortions after 15 weeks.
State House Bill 1510 passed on a 35-14 vote, and heads back to the House for approval. Gov. Phil Bryant, who tweeted the following message on Twitter, is expected to sign it:
“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 Associated Press reports that the bill was amended to remove potential penalties for abortionists:
The only exceptions to the 15-week cutoff in the bill are a woman’s medical emergency related to the pregnancy or a medical abnormality that makes the fetus “incompatible with life.” There are no exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest.
Senators amended the bill to take out possible felony charges for physicians who perform abortions later than 15 weeks. Those who do abortions after that limit would have their professional medical licenses suspended or revoked.
Mississippi currently bans most abortions after 20 weeks. If HB 1510 passes and is signed into law, Mississippi would hold the earliest abortion ban in the nation. Last month, the state House Judiciary B Committee approved the measure.
Rep. Andy Gipson, chairman of the Judiciary B Committee, said the bill would protect women from the health risks of late-term abortions. “It is medically proven that these abortions performed after the first trimester are extremely dangerous to the mother’s health,” said Gipson, “in addition to the fact that it forces a very late abortion in the process.”
Diane Derzis, who owns Mississippi’s lone abortion facility in Jackson, says the bill would “absolutely” affect her facility’s operations. Derzis speculates that the bill is part of a plot to flood the court systems with pro-life legislation. “I think that’s part of the plan,” said Derzis, “to get as much anti-abortion legislation headed up through the court system.”
A 2014 report published by the Charlotte Lozier Institute revealed that “the United States is one of only seven countries in the world that permit elective abortion past 20 weeks,” and “more than 75% of the countries permitting abortion without restriction as to reason do not permit elective abortions past 12 weeks gestation.”