Mississippi Republican Governor Phil Bryant said this week that he looks forward to signing the state's bill banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The bill, known as House Bill 1400, passed the state House and Senate on Tuesday.
"This measure represents a great effort to protect the unborn in Mississippi," Bryant said in a statement, according to The Associated Press, shortly after House Bill 1400 passed the Senate by a 41-10 vote and the House by a 91-20 vote.
The bill does not include exceptions to rape or incest, as some lawmakers had proposed, but it does include exceptions if the mother's health is in danger or if the fetus has severe physical abnormalities.
Some in Mississippi's legislature called the bill unnecessary because the state's only abortion clinic says it does not perform abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and gives the patient a sonogram test to determine gestation time. Others questioned if passing the bill would put the state at risk for a federal lawsuit, as Arizona recently had its 20-week abortion ban blocked by the Supreme Court.
Proponents of the bill argued that the purpose of the legislation was to continue protecting the lives of the unborn. Mississippi is the only state in the Southeast that doesn't have a 20-week abortion ban.
Felicia Brown-Williams, director of public policy for Planned Parenthood Southeast, responded to Tuesday's vote by telling the Jackson Clarion Ledger: "Women who make the deeply personal and often complex decision to end a pregnancy after 18 weeks should do so in consultation with their physician, not politicians."
Charmaine Yoest, president of the pro-life group Americans United for Life, applauded Mississippi's legislature for its vote on Tuesday. "Late term abortions are deadly for both mother and child."
"A woman seeking an abortion at 20 weeks (five months) is 35 times more likely to die from abortion than she was in the first trimester. At 21 weeks or more, she is 91 times more likely to die from abortion than she was in the first trimester. Such horrendous statistics show the wisdom of the Mississippi legislators who moved today to enact common-sense limits on a dangerous procedure."
"I want to commend State House Representative Andy Gipson and State Senator Joey Fillingane, who led the way in pulling together pro-life majorities in support of a measure that will protect women from such horrific deaths witnessed in clinics across the country," Yoest added.