Mississippi lawmakers in both the House and Senate passed bills Wednesday that could ban abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy.
If either bill becomes law, abortions in Mississippi would be illegal as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected.
There are exceptions that would allow abortion if the pregnancy threatens a woman’s life or would cause her serious harm.
There is no exception in cases of incest or rape.
Gov. Phil Bryant has said he would sign a bill banning abortion as early as six weeks.
“It’s time to pass a Heart Beat Bill in Mississippi and stop this madness about when life begins,” Bryant tweeted in January.
Mississippi only has one abortion clinic in the state.
Planned Parenthood Southeast issued a statement condemning the Mississippi Legislature for passing a bill that will be declared unconstitutional if it becomes law.
“These bills would ban abortion — outlawing the procedure before most women even know they’re pregnant,” said Felicia Brown-Williams, Mississippi director at Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates. “Individual rights and freedoms go to the heart of who we are as a country, including the right to access safe and legal abortion. Mississippians should be able to make their own most personal health care decisions without politicians controlling when, how, or why.”
Legislators last year already approved one of the strictest abortion laws, banning them after 15 weeks. That law was quickly halted and found to “unequivocally” violate women’s constitutional rights by a federal judge last year. Attorney General Jim Hood has vowed to fight the decision.
The new, more restrictive abortion bills were met with praise and criticism in both legislative chambers Wednesday afternoon.
Abortion opponents foresee the possibility that the high court might either reverse Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling establishing a nationwide right to abortion, or uphold specific state laws that would undermine Roe.
Back on the Senate floor in Mississippi, Simmons proposed an amendment allowing victims of rape or incest to have an abortion past heartbeat detection, but the amendment was defeated, 31-15.