Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant has signed a ban on abortions after 15 weeks of gestation, the Associated Press reported Monday, the earliest ban in effect nationwide.
“This common-sense, pro-life law will help us make our state the safest place in America for an unborn child,” Bryant recently tweeted.
In 2016, Mississippi State Department of Health data show that almost 2,600 abortions were performed at the state's only clinic in Jackson. That is heartbreaking. This common-sense, pro-life law will help us make our state the safest place in America for an unborn child.
— Phil Bryant (@PhilBryantMS) March 16, 2018
The Senate and House both passed HB 1510, also known as the Gestation Age Act, earlier this month. An earlier version of the bill said physicians found guilty of administering the procedure could face a felony conviction and up to 10 years of jail time. The latest version Bryant signed into law do not mention those consequences, instead saying physicians’ medical licenses could be suspended or revoked.
Mississippi is home to 2.9 million people and one abortion clinic, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, based in the state’s capital city. The clinic offers abortions up until 16.5 weeks of gestation, Dr. Willie Parker told the PBS NewsHour earlier this month. Parker, who has provided abortion services at the clinic since 2012, an estimated 2,000 women go to the clinic each year. He said the law adds one more obstacle to women in a rural state who often face challenges accessing transportation and health care.
“You take women in a desperate situation and make their situation more desperate,” he said.
Abortion rights advocates have vowed to fight the law.
Lourdes Rivera, senior vice president for U.S. programs at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said Mississippi’s new law is “dangerous and unconstitutional” designed to undermine four decades of precedent after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that abortions were legal in the United States.
“Mississippi politicians’ flagrant assault on reproductive rights will not go unchallenged,” she said in a written statement. “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.”