Mississippi Imposes 15-Week Abortion Ban

It's the toughest ban in the nation
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 19, 2018 5:02 PM CDT
Kami Bullock, left, and Barbara Beavers, both anti-abortion supporters, stand with their signs outside the Jackson Women's Health Organization clinic in Jackson, Miss., and attempt to elicit support from...   (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

(Newser) – Mississippi's governor signed a law Monday banning most abortions after 15 weeks' gestation, the tightest restrictions in the nation, the AP reports. Republican Gov. Phil Bryant said while signing that by enacting the law, the state is "saving more of the unborn than any state in America, and what better thing can we do?" House Bill 1510's only exceptions are if a fetus has health problems making it "incompatible with life" outside of the womb at full term, or if a pregnant woman's life or a "major bodily function" is threatened by pregnancy. Pregnancies resulting from rape and incest aren't exempted. The bill was drafted with the assistance of conservative groups including the Mississippi Center for Public Policy and the Alliance Defending Freedom. Both Republican-controlled chambers passed the bill overwhelmingly in early March, by a vote of 35-14 in the Senate and 76-34 in the House.

Mississippi previously tied with North Carolina for the nation's strictest abortion limits at 20 weeks. Both states count pregnancy as beginning on the first day of a woman's previous menstrual period. That means the restrictions kick in about two weeks before those of states whose 20-week bans begin at conception. The state is bracing for immediate lawsuits. Abortion rights advocates say the law is unconstitutional because it limits abortion before fetuses can live outside the womb. The owner of Mississippi's only abortion clinic in Jackson opposes the law and has pledged to sue. "We certainly think this bill is unconstitutional," said Katherine Klein, equality advocacy coordinator for the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi. "The 15-week marker has no bearing in science. It's just completely unfounded and a court has never upheld anything under the 20-week viability marker."

(Read more abortion stories.)

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