News Abortion

Mississippi Board of Health Nomination Stalls, But Bill Targetting Medication Abortion Progresses (UPDATED)

Robin Marty

Anti-choice activist Terri Herring will not be added to the state board of health, but not because she's completely unqualified.

UPDATE, April 2, 8:45 am: The AP reports that Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant has pulled Herring’s nomination.

Anti-choice activist Terri Herring caused a great deal of controversy recently when she was nominated for a position on the Mississippi Board of Health. Republican Governor Phil Bryant ignored her lack of a medical background by claiming that her years of lobbying against access to legal abortion was really a championing of “women’s health.”

Now, Herring may not even get a vote. A closer look at Mississippi law shows that Herring may not be eligible for the board—not because of her anti-choice lobbying background or lack of interest in medical issues outside of abortion, but because there are already enough board members from her part of the state. According to Associate Press reporter Emily Wagster Pettus, “State law specifies the 11 board members must come from certain parts of Mississippi. Two must be from each of the four congressional districts, totaling eight members.” Herring was slated to replace a northern district member, but is from a central district that is already represented.

Herring may be disappointed to learn that her nomination could be over before the debate has even begun, but at least she can take some comfort in the fact that her pet bill for the 2013 session is once more moving through the state legislature. The Mississippi house has voted to pass new regulations on how medication abortions can be provided, claiming a need to curb the non-existent practice of tele-med abortions by requiring that drugs that induce an abortion only be provided by doctors when in the physical presence of the patient. Unfortunately for Herring, the bill is still the watered-down version that led her to call her political allies “Judas” for allowing it to be weakened.

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Despite the urging of extreme anti-choice advocates, two items were stripped from the bill: a requirement that would have meant women had to return to a doctor’s office to receive misoprostol (rather than allowing her to leave the clinic with the medication) and a measure that would have made it illegal to offer RU-486 after a woman had reached seven weeks’ gestation, rather than the usual nine weeks.

The bill will now head to the governor for signature.

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