News Law and Policy

Mississippi Lawmaker Introduces Bill to Extend Forced Waiting Period

Teddy Wilson

Sen. Phillip Gandy (R-Waynesboro) has introduced SB 2138, which would increase the minimum waiting period before a woman can have an abortion from 24 to 72 hours.

A Mississippi lawmaker has introduced a bill that would increase the amount of time that a woman would have to wait to have an abortion.

In many states around the country women seeking to terminate a pregnancy are required by the state to complete a waiting period, often 24 hours, before having an abortion. Anti-choice lawmakers in state legislatures controlled by Republicans have been pushing legislation to increase mandatory waiting periods.

Sen. Phillip Gandy (R-Waynesboro) has introduced SB 2138, which would increase the minimum waiting period before a woman can have an abortion from 24 to 72 hours.

Gandy, a Baptist minister, also sponsored anti-abortion bills in previous legislative sessions. During the 2014 legislative session, he sponsored SB 2427, which would have banned abortion after 20 weeks’ gestation; the bill was justified with medically inaccurate claims of fetal pain.

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Abortion is already highly restricted in Mississippi. There is only one clinic that provides abortion care in the state, and it has been a constant target of both anti-choice lawmakers and activists.

Last year, Republican Gov. Phil Bryant said it is his goal to “end abortion” in the state.

In addition to increasing the waiting period, SB 2138 would amend state law on forced counseling and parental consent for individuals seeking abortions: The bill would mandate that requirements of both those existing laws be met before the waiting period begins.

The counseling law includes a forced ultrasound requirement, which mandates that physicians offer patients an opportunity to view an ultrasound, a physical copy of the ultrasound image, and the opportunity to hear the fetal heartbeat.

Additionally, the physician must obtain a written certification that the woman was offered these opportunities 72 hours before receiving an abortion.

Mississippi law states that minors seeking an abortion must obtain written parental consent of both parents before a physician can perform an abortion. Current law does not include a timeframe during which consent must be obtained. The new bill would require parental consent 72 hours before the abortion.

During the 2013 legislative session, lawmakers failed to pass HB 1292, which would have instituted a 24-hour waiting period for the forced ultrasound requirement.

The new bill has been refereed to the public health and welfare committee, where it awaits further action.

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