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Mississippi's Governor Has Signed The Nation's Most Restrictive Abortion Ban Into Law

21 March 2018

Gov. Phil Bryant (R., Miss.) signed the country's strictest abortion restrictions into law on Monday, immediately banning abortion procedures after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

After signing the bill, the governor wrote on Twitter, "I am committed to making MS the safest place in America for an unborn child, and this bill will help us achieve that goal".

Reeves said in court that the "ultimate question" is whether a state can ban abortion before viability.

Bryant called Reeves' ruling "disappointing".

House Bill 1510 passed the MS legislature in early March, and Bryant recently said the "15-week ban will be the most protective language for the unborn".

"We Catholic bishops of MS wish to reaffirm the sacredness of human life from conception until natural death", said Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz of Jackson and Bishop Louis F. Kihneman III of Biloxi. He asked: "Does the state have the right to trump the woman's right to have control over her decisions, over her body?" Pregnancies resulting from rape and incest are not exempted.

For women without the financial resources or work flexibility, House Bill 1510 is really a de facto ban on abortion altogether.

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The law is facing legal challenges from abortion rights advocates who say it is unconstitutional.

The law would not affect most legal abortion-Planned Parenthood estimates that 92 percent of abortions are performed before 12 weeks. "States can not "prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision" to do so".

The state's only abortion clinic quickly sued, and U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves put a temporary restraining order on the law Tuesday.

"Politicians are not above the rule of law, and we are confident this risky bill will be struck down like every similar attempt before it", said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights.

The law's only exceptions are if a foetus has health problems making it "incompatible with life" outside of the womb at full term, or if a pregnant woman's life or a "major bodily function" is threatened by pregnancy.

Access to abortions in MS was already highly restrictive.

In commending the state's lawmakers, Bishops Kopacz and Kihneman also criticized lawmakers in Congress who let the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act fail in the House of Representatives. "It is one of 20 states that have passed popular, compassionate legislation to stop cruel late-term abortions after five months". For instance, prior to the new law, MS counted a pregnancy as beginning with the first day of a woman's last menstrual cycle, or about two weeks before most other states started counting. One law at a time, ideologues in the MS legislature and those of state politicians across the country are pushing for a broader agenda to ultimately end a woman's ability to choose what's best for HER life and HER family. So by 15 weeks, he estimates, 200 women in MS who should have access to an abortion no longer will. Whatever challenges we have to take on to do that, is something we're willing to do'.

Mississippi's Governor Has Signed The Nation's Most Restrictive Abortion Ban Into Law