(PRESS RELEASE) Today, the Mississippi legislature passed a bill (SB 2116) that would effectively ban abortion outright. The law makes it a crime for doctors to provide an abortion once a heartbeat has been detected—around six weeks of pregnancy. The Center for Reproductive Rights has sent a letter to Governor Bryant urging him to veto the bill.
Statement from Elisabeth Smith, Chief Counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“This law would ban abortion before most women know that they’re pregnant. Already, Mississippi has a slew of abortion restrictions and only one abortion clinic, making it nearly impossible to access abortion before six weeks of pregnancy.
“Just months ago in a case we filed on behalf of Mississippi’s only abortion clinic—Jackson Women’s Health Organization—a federal court struck down Mississippi’s attempt to ban abortion after 15 weeks, calling it a waste of tax payer money and a transparent attack on women’s health. This new prohibition, at an even earlier stage of pregnancy, is blatantly unconstitutional and we have called on Governor Bryant to veto it. If he does not, we are ready to take Mississippi to court to protect all women in the state.”
In November, a federal district court in Mississippi struck down the state’s 15-week ban, determining that it violated the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of reproductive autonomy. In that decision, the court described the 15-week ban as “closer to the old Mississippi—the Mississippi bent on controlling women and minorities” and described the state’s “professed interest in women’s health” as “gaslighting.”
The Supreme Court recognized over forty-five years ago in Roe v. Wade and reaffirmed just two years ago that a state cannot deny women the ultimate decision to terminate a pregnancy prior to viability. In light of that clear law, courts have struck down bans on abortion prior to viability not only in Mississippi but also in Arkansas, Arizona, Iowa, and North Dakota. A similar 6-week ban was passed and temporarily blocked in Kentucky just last week. If enacted, SB 2116 would be one of the most extreme abortion restrictions in the country.
Mississippi women already face a mountain of barriers to abortion, many of which the Center for Reproductive Rights is challenging in a lawsuit in federal court. For example, women must receive biased counseling designed to deter them from having an abortion and must then wait 24 hours before returning to the facility to get the procedure. Minors must get consent from both of their parents, or obtain a judicial bypass, before accessing abortion care. Doctors cannot use telemedicine to prescribe pills for medication abortion. Furthermore, the state’s Medicaid program does not cover abortion care, and state healthcare plans offered under the Affordable Care Act only cover abortion if the woman’s life is endangered, or in cases of rape or incest. The state also has a “trigger ban,” which would ban abortion immediately if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
The Center's veto letter is available here: https://bit.ly/2CoU1Pi
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