The Mississippi House of Representatives passed a bill that, if enacted, will ban abortions performed due to an unborn baby’s race, sex, or possible genetic abnormalities.
Known as House Bill 1295, the measure was passed last Thursday by a vote of 79-33, with six abstentions, three voting present, and one vacancy.
Sue Liebel, state policy director for the pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List, celebrated the results of the vote and expected the legislation to ultimately pass.
“Abortions carried out because of a baby’s sex, race, or potential disability, such as Down syndrome, is no less than modern-day eugenics,” said Liebel in a statement.
“SBA List is confident these staunch pro-life advocates will continue to champion this bill until it reaches Governor Tate Reeves’ desk — a strongly pro-life governor who will not fail to sign it into law.”
Also known as the Life Equality Act of 2020, the bill gives an exemption for medical emergencies.
“Abortions predicated on the presence or presumed presence of genetic abnormalities continue to occur despite the increasingly favorable post-natal outcomes for human beings perceived as handicapped or disabled,” explains HB 1295 in part.
“Pharmaceutical treatments, gene therapies, and prosthetic advances have given formerly handicapped and disabled human beings much greater opportunities for survival and success than ever before. Importantly, surgical intervention now includes the availability of intrauterine surgery.”
If enacted, an abortion provider found in violation of the law could face as much as 10 years in prison and see their state medical license suspended or possibly revoked.
The proposed legislation clarified that any “woman upon whom an abortion is performed, induced, or attempted” will “not be prosecuted” for violating the Act.
Representative Sonya Williams-Barnes of Gulfport was critical of HB 1295, voting against the bill when it was in a House committee earlier this month.
“Women should have a right to make a choice for themselves whether they want to have a child or not,” stated Williams-Barnes, as reported by the Associated Press.
“My concern is, you make the woman have the child that has these deficiencies, but yet are you going to give her any medical aid or home care assistance for the child?”
Last month, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed a preliminary injunction against a Mississippi law banning abortions performed once an unborn baby's heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.
The panel opinion referenced an earlier legal decision against a different Mississippi law that banned most abortions performed after 15 weeks’ gestation.
“In 2018, Mississippi enacted a law prohibiting abortions, with limited exceptions, after 15 weeks’ gestational age. A district court enjoined the law, and we recently upheld that injunction,” explained the panel opinion.
“If a ban on abortion after 15 weeks is unconstitutional, then it follows that a ban on abortion at an earlier stage of pregnancy is also unconstitutional.”