Mississippi lawmakers celebrated International Women’s Day on Thursday by passing a bill that would ban abortion at 15 weeks of pregnancy ― the strictest limit in the nation. Gov. Phil Bryant (R) has said he will sign the legislation into law.
“As I have repeatedly said, I want Mississippi to be the safest place in America for an unborn child,” Bryant tweeted. “House Bill 1510 will help us achieve that goal.”
The bill that passed in both chambers of the state legislature has no exceptions for rape and incest victims, but does exempt women whose lives are endangered by the pregnancy or whose fetuses would not survive the pregnancy.
Abortion is already extremely difficult to access in Mississippi, which has only one clinic left. The state is already one of 17 that bans abortions at 20 weeks. Arkansas tried to ban the procedure at 12 weeks, but a federal appeals court ruled the law unconstitutional and blocked it.
Reproductive rights advocates have argued that the 20-week ban is unconstitutional, because the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that a state cannot impose an undue burden on a woman’s ability to have an abortion until the fetus would be able to survive outside the womb. Doctors set viability at about 22-24 weeks.
The Center for Reproductive Rights has said it will sue Mississippi once the governor signs the bill into law. The civil rights group argues women have the right to end their pregnancies safely and legally.
“Mississippi politicians’ flagrant assault on reproductive rights will not go unchallenged,” said Lourdes Rivera, a spokesperson for the center. “The true motive of these politicians is to shut down the state’s sole remaining abortion clinic and deny Mississippi women the ability to make decisions about their health, families and lives and to access quality, compassionate abortion services that they need.”