Jackson, Miss., Feb 6, 2018 / 04:31 pm (CNA).- An abortion ban is up for debate in Mississippi, where the House of Representatives has passed a bill that would bar most abortions after 15 weeks into pregnancy.
House Bill 1510 passed by a Feb. 2 vote of 79-31, with some Democratic support in the Republican-controlled House, the Associated Press reports. The bill allows exceptions for when a woman’s life is in danger or when an unborn child has a severe abnormality.
“Women deserve real health care, not some fake health care that involves the destruction of human life and a woman’s health,” said Rep. Andy Gipson, the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary B Committee.
State records indicate about 200 abortions a year are performed on women 15 to 20 weeks pregnant, he said.
Rep. Becky Currie, the bill’s sponsor, said the bill is appropriate because most women discover they are pregnant months before the pregnancy reaches 15 weeks.
According to Felicia Brown-Williams, state director for Planned Parenthood Advocates Southeast, the bill is unconstitutional because the U.S. Supreme Court will not allow abortion bans earlier than the age of fetal viability.
Bill opponent Rep. Sonya Williams-Barnes, a Democrat, said the proposal is “just another fancy way of telling a woman what to do with her body and when to do it.”
The bill must now pass the Senate.
Both Mississippi and North Carolina bar abortion at 20 weeks into pregnancy, measured from a woman’s last menstrual period. Other states start from a date two weeks later.
The state’s only abortion clinic, Jackson Women’s Health Organization, does not perform abortions as late as 20 weeks and so it did not challenge the current law, clinic owner Diane Derzis told the Associated Press. The clinic does perform abortions three weeks past the proposed ban limit.
It is unclear whether such abortion limits will pass scrutiny in federal court.
CNA sought comment from the Dioceses of Jackson and Biloxi but a response was not available by deadline.