Mississippi has passed an abortion bill believed to be the nation's most restrictive—and state Attorney General Jim Hood says he expects an "immediate and expensive legal challenge." House Bill 1510 bans abortion after 15 weeks following a woman's last menstrual period, down from 20 weeks under the previous law, AFP reports. The bill makes no exceptions for incest or rape, but exemptions will be allowed in the case of severe fetal abnormalities or a pregnancy that threatens the mother's life. The bill passed the state House 75-34 on Thursday—which was International Women's Day.
The bill passed the state Senate earlier this week and will now go to the desk of Republican Gov. Phil Bryant, who has signaled that he will sign it. "I want Mississippi to be the safest place in America for an unborn child," he tweeted Tuesday. Hood says he knows other bans on abortion after 15 weeks have been struck down, and experts expect the same to happen to this bill, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reports. "Under existing law, it's patently unconstitutional," University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone tells the Los Angeles Times. "It's an effort to push the limits, but I can't imagine any court in a good-faith manner applying the existing doctrine and upholding this law." (In 2014, a court rejected a law that would have closed the state's only abortion clinic.)