Mississippi Lawmakers Pass Abortion Restriction Bill

Mar 9, 2018
Originally published on March 9, 2018 7:00 am
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Mississippi is about to become the most difficult place in the country to get an abortion. Desare Frazier with Mississippi Public Broadcasting reports from Jackson.

DESARE FRAZIER, BYLINE: Lawmakers in the Mississippi House passed a bill that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy instead of the current 20 weeks. The exceptions are a medical emergency or a severely abnormal fetus. House Democrat Alyce Clarke of Jackson voted against the measure. She says the state hasn't done enough to provide comprehensive sex education.

ALYCE CLARKE: In the 34 years I've been here, they come up with a more restrictive abortion law every year. And we don't want to give mothers - family planning we don't want to do. We don't want to pass out contraceptives.

FRAZIER: Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn supports the bill.

PHILIP GUNN: We've worked very hard over many, many years to try to protect the sanctity of human life. We believe in the value of human life, and this is something that we think is important.

FRAZIER: Abortion rights advocates say the measure is unconstitutional. Planned Parenthood's state director, Felicia Brown-Williams, urged legislators not to support the bill, arguing the goal of the legislation is to challenge a woman's right to an abortion.

FELICIA BROWN-WILLIAMS: The national anti-abortion group is pushing this legislation specifically in states where they feel like they might be able to get a favorable court judgment because they'd like to take this to the Supreme Court. And their hope is that they can overturn Roe v. Wade.

FRAZIER: Republican Governor Phil Bryant says he'll sign the bill.

PHIL BRYANT: I hope at some point, Mississippi is free of abortion completely. And I hope it is before I leave office.

FRAZIER: The owner of Mississippi's only clinic in Jackson plans to sue the state. Mississippi's attorney general, a Democrat, points out courts have refused to allow states to ban abortions earlier than 20 weeks. For NPR News, I'm Desare Frazier in Jackson, Miss.

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