Thursday, March 08, 2018 4:00 pm
Mississippi lawmakers pass restrictive abortion law
Eds: Adds item with House approving the bill. With BC-US-XGR--Abortion-Mississippi.
JACKSON, Miss. – The Latest on a proposal in Mississippi to ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy (all times local):
Mississippi lawmakers have passed what is likely to be the nation's most restrictive abortion law.
The House on Thursday approved by a vote of 75-34 a measure that would make most abortions illegal after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Republican Gov. Phil Bryant has said he'll sign the bill. The Mississippi Senate passed the measure on Tuesday.
The bill could spark a court challenge focusing on whether states can ban abortions before fetuses can survive outside the womb. The owner of Mississippi's only abortion clinic has pledged to sue.
There are two exceptions to the bill: if the fetus has a health problem that would prevent it from surviving outside the womb at full term, or if the pregnant woman's life or a "major bodily function" is threatened by the pregnancy. Pregnancies as a result of rape and incest would not be exempt.
Mississippi now prohibits abortion after 20 weeks.
For decades, the U.S. Supreme Court has been telling states that they can't ban abortions before a fetus can survive outside the womb on its own.
But states continue to try to restrict abortion before viability. One of the most recent is Mississippi, where lawmakers are on the brink of approving a measure that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks.
House Bill 1510 passed the Mississippi Senate on Tuesday and is likely to become law. Legal experts say its passage is an invitation to the Supreme Court to revisit its previous rulings.
Supporters of abortion rights say they doubt the court would do so. But backers of the bill say they're hopeful the court will clarify its stance and allow states to begin restricting abortion earlier in pregnancy.