As Mississippi state legislators introduced several extreme anti-choice bills last week, Gov. Phil Bryant (R) declared that his goal is to “end abortion” in the state.
In his “state of the state” speech, Bryant said, “On this unfortunate anniversary of Roe v. Wade, my goal is to end abortion in Mississippi.”
The state could see an end to safe abortion access if Mississippi’s last abortion clinic, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, were to close. The clinic is still locked in a court battle over a 2012 law requiring the clinic’s physicians to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. The clinic was unable to comply with the new law when all area hospitals rejected its applications, but it remains open while the courts consider the constitutionality of the law.
Bryant also said last year that his goal was to shut down the state’s last clinic, and Rep. Sam Mims (R-McComb), who sponsored the admitting privileges bill, told Politico that the intent of the legislation was to lead to fewer abortions being performed in the state. Pro-choice advocates argue that public statements like these about the law’s intent should hurt the law’s chances in court.
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Meanwhile, Mississippi legislators introduced several bills that would severely restrict women’s access to safe abortion care even if the last clinic wins its appeals.
A house bill sponsored by Rep. Andy Gipson (R-Braxton) would ban abortion after 20 weeks, as would a senate bill sponsored by Sen. Phillip Gandy (R-Waynesboro). A senate bill sponsored by Sen. Joey Fillingane (R-Sumrall) would ban abortion after 12 weeks or if a fetal heartbeat is detected.
Bans on abortion at 20 weeks or earlier are considered a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade. Federal courts have blocked such bans in Arizona and North Dakota, but that hasn’t stopped state or federal lawmakers from trying: So far this year, 20-week bans have been proposed in Kentucky and Maryland, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced one in the U.S. Senate in November.
Also introduced in Mississippi is a ban on race- and sex-selective abortions, sponsored by Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville). Reproductive rights advocates have pointed out that such bans can lead to racial profiling, and are a problem in search of a solution.
Correction: A version of this article noted that jury selection for the lawsuit will begin on March 3. In fact, a trial date has not yet been set. We regret the error.
It also stated that a sex-selective abortion ban failed to pass in North Carolina last year, but it did in fact pass.