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Mississippi abortion ban bill could be doomed

JACKSON, Miss. (BP)–A bill that would ban most abortions in Mississippi may be dead after the state Senate voted March 15 to negotiate with the House over the bill’s details.

The bill had passed the House March 2 and would ban abortions except in the cases of rape, incest and to save the mother’s life. But the bill, SB 2922, originally also required that abortion clinics give a woman the opportunity to see her baby on a sonogram or to hear its heartbeat. The House removed that portion from the bill and inserted the abortion ban language.

Some senators want the sonogram provision re-inserted. The group Pro-Life Mississippi supported the two chambers going into negotiations and re-attaching the sonogram requirement.

The abortion ban is a direct challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide. Supporters concede that a federal court likely will strike down the ban, but they hope the high court eventually takes up the case and overturns Roe. South Dakota’s governor signed a similar bill into law March 6, although that bill only contained an exception for the mother’s life.

Sen. Alan Nunnelee, a Republican, said he fears Mississippi’s informed consent law also could be struck down if the abortion ban is overturned. Among other things, the informed consent law requires that women wait 24 hours before an abortion and that minors notify both parents before an abortion.

“This outright ban has been put right in the middle of Mississippi’s informed consent statute,” Nunnelee said, according to The Jackson Clarion-Ledger. “There’s very high likelihood that the two items would be challenged in court.”

But Rep. Steve Holland, a Democrat who chairs the House Public Health and Human Services Committee, said the negotiations may doom the bill.

“I’ll be glad to listen, but I don’t think the House wants to vote on that issue again,” Holland said, according to the newspaper. “It may die.”

Five of the Supreme Court’s nine members are on record as supporting Roe. Some pro-lifers have questioned the wisdom of passing an abortion ban, arguing that it could serve only to strengthen Roe as precedent. They say that such a ban should wait until one of the five pro-Roe justices is replaced.

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