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Mississippi Senate passes ban on abortion

JACKSON, Miss. (BP)–Mississippi’s Senate easily passed a bill Feb. 7 banning most abortions, becoming the first legislative body this year to adopt a measure challenging Roe v. Wade.

Other states, including South Dakota and Utah, also are considering abortion bans.

Mississippi’s bill, which would ban abortion except in cases of rape, incest and to save the mother’s life, passed with a bipartisan vote of 35-4. It now goes to the state House, which passed an abortion ban last year but may not view the bill so favorably this year. According to The Jackson Clarion-Ledger, House Public Health and Human Services Chairman Steve Holland said he had no intention of considering the bill.

But Tanya Britton, president of Pro-Life Mississippi, applauded the bill’s passage.

“Mississippi needs to go on record about its position on abortion so that there is no question that people in the state, No. 1, are pro-life and No. 2, do object vehemently to the taking of the life of any child,” Britton told Baptist Press. “We know the harm that abortion does to women.”

Pro-lifers are split over the strategy behind the bans, which supporters acknowledge will be challenged and struck down in lower federal courts as unconstitutional. The goal, though, is to have the Supreme Court reconsider its infamous 1973 Roe decision that legalized abortion nationwide. Five of the nine Supreme Court justices are on record as supporting Roe, and some pro-lifers fear the abortion bans will lead to rulings setting bad legal precedent.

The Mississippi bill says “every human being, including those in utero, possesses a natural intrinsic right to live and has an interest in life.” It also says the abortion procedure is “inherently dangerous to the psychological and physical health of the woman.”

“[A]n abortion places a woman at greater risk for psychological distress, depression, suicidal ideation and suicide than carrying her child to full term and giving birth,” the bill, known as SB 2795, states.

The Senate is split 26-26 between Democrats and Republicans, although the GOP has working control because the lieutenant governor is Republican. Democrats control the House.

Last year the abortion ban failed to make it out of a House-Senate conference. With Holland’s opposition, the bill may die again.

“I have no intention of taking up any pro-choice or pro-life bill,” Holland said, according to The Clarion-Ledger. “I’m not going to put the House through that again. I just don’t think it’s the right time. It’s just the same-old, same-old that we go through. Nothing’s changed with Roe v. Wade.”

The Senate also passed a bill, SB 2801, that would require abortion doctors to offer the mother a view of her unborn via sonogram and a chance to hear the unborn’s heartbeat. Britton said the bill is aimed at those mothers who say to themselves, “It’s not really a child. It’s not really alive.”

“If you find yourself in that state, you’re not going to hear anything that’s being told to you, but maybe that heartbeat — hearing that child’s heart — will make this child more real to you and will cut through all of the crisis and the panic that a woman may be experiencing at the time,” she said.

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  • Michael Foust