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Mississippi considers abortion ban after fetal heartbeat

MGN Online

Mississippi lawmakers are considering what could become one of the strictest abortion laws in the country.

Posted: Feb 6, 2019 9:37 AM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi lawmakers are considering what could become one of the strictest abortion laws in the country. Bills that passed legislative committees Tuesday would ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant has said he will sign either House Bill 732 or Senate Bill 2116 , which are moving to the full House and Senate for more work. Supporters and opponents anticipate a court fight.

An Iowa judge struck down a similar law there last month.

Several states could consider tighter abortion restrictions to get a challenge up to the more conservative U.S. Supreme Court to try to overturn the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.

Mississippi has some of the tightest abortion laws in the U.S., with a 24-hour waiting period and parental consent for minors required, with some exceptions. The state last year enacted a law banning abortion after 15 weeks, and a federal judge declared it unconstitutional.

In his November decision, U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves cited Supreme Court rulings and wrote that states may not ban abortions before viability. He wrote that viability must be determined by trained medical professionals, and the "established medical consensus" is that viability typically begins at 23 to 24 weeks after the pregnant woman's last menstrual period. The state is asking an appeals court to overturn the ruling.

During a Senate Public Health Committee meeting Tuesday, Democratic Sen. John Horhn of Jackson objected to the heartbeat bill and took note of Reeves' ruling about the 15-week ban. The committee chairman, Republican Sen. Joey Fillingane of Sumrall, replied that under "one district federal court judge appointed by President Obama, it was declared to be unconstitutional."

Horhn asked whether it matters which president appointed the federal judge, and Fillingane responded that the nation's highest court has become more conservative.

"I don't think the other states are sitting around waiting to determine what our Supreme Court in its current composition is going to do," Fillingane said.

Fillingane, who is white, also told Horhn, who is black, that more than 80 percent of the abortions done in Mississippi are for African-American women. He also quoted a hymn.

"I believe, 'Red, yellow, black and white, they're all precious in his sight,'" Fillingane said. "And so that's why we're bringing this bill to the floor."

Horhn responded: "If they're all precious in his sight, why are you bringing up that demographic statistic?"

Fillingane said he brought it up so committee members would be aware of what they were voting on. The bill would still allow abortions if a pregnancy endangers a woman's life or one of her major bodily functions.

Democratic Sen. David Blount of Jackson said he has voted for some abortion restrictions in the past but opposed the 15-week ban last year because he believed it to be unconstitutional and will oppose the fetal heartbeat bill for the same reason.

"Again and again we've been told that we should pass legislation, and again and again it's found to be unconstitutional," Blount said.

This is election year in Mississippi. Although Bryant cannot seek a third term as governor, most lawmakers are seeking another four years in office.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 15752

Reported Deaths: 739
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds100625
Lauderdale73862
Madison72423
Scott65012
Neshoba64639
Jones62928
Forrest56438
DeSoto5427
Rankin4398
Holmes42928
Leake42712
Copiah3124
Jackson30813
Attala29817
Yazoo2814
Newton2714
Leflore26431
Lincoln26329
Harrison2587
Monroe25725
Oktibbeha23912
Lamar2385
Lowndes2119
Pearl River20931
Wayne2041
Pike20311
Adams19915
Noxubee1866
Washington1787
Warren17310
Covington1652
Jasper1634
Bolivar16211
Lee1536
Smith15211
Kemper14411
Clarke14418
Lafayette1364
Chickasaw13512
Coahoma1254
Carroll11711
Winston1171
Marion1159
Clay1124
Claiborne1112
Lawrence1021
Simpson1010
Tate941
Grenada943
Yalobusha935
Hancock9111
Wilkinson889
Itawamba877
Montgomery851
Sunflower843
Union835
Marshall833
Jefferson Davis773
Tippah7311
Panola713
Webster692
Calhoun654
Amite641
Humphreys607
Walthall560
Tunica553
Prentiss533
Perry503
Choctaw432
Jefferson421
Pontotoc353
Quitman330
Tishomingo320
Stone300
Franklin292
Tallahatchie271
George251
Alcorn171
Benton150
Greene131
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 18075

Reported Deaths: 644
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2239116
Jefferson1837102
Montgomery171040
Tuscaloosa78315
Marshall6939
Franklin5567
Lee54833
Shelby51720
Tallapoosa42765
Butler41118
Chambers35525
Walker3542
Elmore3548
Madison3394
Baldwin2909
Morgan2801
Dallas2723
Etowah25711
DeKalb2483
Lowndes24612
Coffee2361
Sumter2247
Autauga2214
Houston2204
Bullock2095
Pike2030
Colbert1842
Hale1739
Russell1710
Marengo1706
Barbour1671
Lauderdale1642
Calhoun1603
Choctaw1538
Wilcox1487
Clarke1442
Cullman1430
Randolph1277
St. Clair1231
Marion12211
Pickens1164
Dale1150
Talladega1135
Limestone1060
Chilton1011
Greene944
Winston900
Macon824
Henry802
Covington801
Jackson782
Crenshaw753
Bibb751
Washington706
Escambia633
Blount621
Lawrence500
Geneva430
Conecuh411
Coosa401
Monroe402
Perry390
Cherokee373
Clay272
Lamar260
Fayette160
Cleburne151
Unassigned00
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