EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is an update to a March 9 Baptist Press report.
JACKSON, Miss. (BP) — Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant on Monday (March 19) signed into law the earliest protection in the nation for unborn babies.
The bill bans abortion after 15 weeks’ gestation, rolling back the state’s current 20-week limit. It passed through the state legislature by wide margins earlier this month.
The Center for Reproductive Rights has promised to challenge the law’s constitutionality in court, calling it “the latest in the state’s string of cruel and unnecessary assaults on reproductive rights.”
After the state legislature passed the new restriction, Bryant applauded it as making Mississippi the safest place in the nation for unborn babies. Challenges to the law are likely to take it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has generally established the standard of viability at 20 weeks’ gestation.
Southern Baptist ethics leaders commended the legislature’s action.
Russell Moore, president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told Baptist Press he is “proud of Mississippi for being proactive in protecting vulnerable children.”
“The abortion industry hides from scrutiny and accountability and preys on women in crisis,” said Moore, a native Mississippian, in written comments. “I am thankful that Mississippi lawmakers have taken real steps to combat this industry of death and look forward to this bill being signed into law. My prayer is that Mississippi would continue to lead the way for other states in standing up for the unborn, women and communities.”
Kenny Digby, executive director-treasurer of the Mississippi Christian Action Commission, told BP the Senate and House votes demonstrate the state is “concerned about babies who are totally unprotected, and I’m proud of our legislature for putting action to their words.”
With enactment of the new ban, Mississippi “will be the vanguard at being pro-life,” Digby said. The Christian Action Commission is an agency of the Mississippi Baptist Convention.
Diane Derzis, owner of the state’s only abortion clinic, told The Jackson Clarion-Ledger she plans to file suit if the ban is enacted. Her clinic, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, performs abortions about 18 weeks into pregnancy, she told the Associated Press.