An state bill restricting legal access to abortion is earning Mississippi lawmakers praise from pro-life activists and scorn from those who believe its language is too extreme.
As The Daily Wire reported, members of the state House voted by a margin of 75 to 34 in favor of the Gestational Age Act, which prohibits abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy, except “in a medical emergency or in the case of a severe abnormality.”
The legislation, which Republican Gov. Phil Bryant pledged to sign into law, has been described by supporters as the most pro-life bill in the nation.
Mississippi, which currently has just one operating abortion clinic, is set to enforce the earliest abortion ban of any U.S. state, though the threshold varies widely across Western society with several European countries enforcing even stricter regulations.
In defending the bill against criticism from one Twitter user, Bryant reiterated what he described as a dedication to making his state “the safest place in America for an unborn child.”
As Politico reported, prior efforts to impose even earlier bans by lawmakers in Arkansas and North Dakota were struck down by federal courts.
The Republican state senator who introduced the bill, however, said he is “not afraid of” threatened legal challenges by the operators of Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the state’s lone abortion provider.
“I think we found the right balance with this 15-week ban,” said Sen. Joey Fillingane.
Others in the state, including Mississippi Center for Public Policy President Jameson Taylor, similarly saw the proposal as “another step in protecting maternal health and advancing the state’s interest in protecting pre-born life.”
In a statement celebrating what it saw as a legislative win, Pro-Life Mississippi affirmed its belief that the unborn “deserve the right to live, which is supported by this bill.”
Praising the language in the legislation, the organization described it as the latest effort to pass bills that “are grounded in science and protect human life.”
Citing prior court decisions, other state leaders predict the law will ultimately be struck down — or at least face a vigorous challenge.
“We know that bans below 20 weeks have been struck down,” said state Attorney General Jim Hood.
The Democrat official said he expects “an immediate and expensive legal challenge.”
Activists including Jackson Women’s Health Organization’s Diane Derzis said now is the time for opponents of the bill to make their voices heard.
“These groups are tossing anything and everything out there, anything that could start winding its way through the legal system because we’re in a very fragile place right now,” she said.
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