Today, on March 19, 2018, Gov. Phil Bryant signed into law a bill banning abortions after 15 weeks, stating, “As I have repeatedly said, I want Mississippi to be the safest place in America for an unborn child.”
The Mississippi House passed the measure early this month on a 75-34.
Mississippi lawmakers are well aware of the abortion industry’s threats on this bill and expect the law to be a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade. Specifically, the Mississippi law would challenge the viability standard set out in Roe and detailed in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The viability standard has proven unworkable in multiple ways, but this new law could challenge how the viability standard forces states to allow abortion on demand until late in pregnancy — when the smallest percentage of abortions are sought.
Diane Derzis, the owner of Mississippi’s one remaining abortion facility, acknowledged that Roe v. Wade is on a clear path to being overturned: “Roe is clearly in danger and that’s what they’re preparing for.” She stated that she plans to sue the state when Gov. Bryant signed the bill.
State lawmakers described the law as one that would help in “protecting more women” and “protecting more children.” They spoke of the humanity of the child in the womb which, while present from the moment of conception, is very evident by 15 weeks.
The Endowment for Human Development, a “nonprofit organization dedicated to improving health science education and public health” has partnered with National Geographic to illustrate the development of the child in the womb through modern technology and real-time videos and photos of preborn children. These photos, videos, and more information about fetal development at all stages is available here.
The vote in the House closely followed Tuesday’s vote in the Mississippi Senate, where senators voted to approve the 15-week ban, 35-14.
While other states have passed early abortion bans, Mississippi now holds the earliest ban in the nation, as courts have struck down the bans passed in Arkansas and North Dakota.