Mississippi governor bans abortions at about six weeks if 'heartbeat' can be heard
Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant on Thursday signed the "heartbeat bill" into law, banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. The bill is reportedly among the most restrictive abortion measure being considered in US states.
The legislation could make abortions illegal as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, when a fetal heartbeat, in some cases, can be detected, according to the Daily Mail. Similar bills were passed earlier this month by the Georgia and Tennessee House of Representatives and could become law later this year. Meanwhile, Kentucky has already passed a law banning abortion after the detection of a heartbeat.
Abortion opponents across the country have been emboldened by new conservatives appointees on the Supreme Court and are seeking cases to challenge the historic 1973 ruling that legalized nationwide abortions.
However, when Kentucky Governor Republican Matt Bevin signed the bill in law on March 14, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) immediately challenged the decision, and a federal judge has temporarily blocked it.
Another Kentucky law was banned by a federal judge on Wednesday that would ban abortion for women seeking to terminate their pregnancies because of the race, gender or disability of the fetus, according to reports.
Another federal judge, in 2018, had struck down a previous Mississippi law that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The judge reportedly deemed the law unconstitutional.
According to the latest legislation signed by Byrant on Thursday, a physician who performs an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected could face revocation of their medical license in Mississippi.
The law, however, adds that abortions in some cases can be allowed where after a fetal heartbeat is detected but the pregnancy endangers the woman's life or one of her major bodily functions. Reports state that the House and the Senate rejected efforts to allow exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest.
The measure was deemed "cruel and clearly unconstitutional" by the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights and said it would sue Mississippi in an effort to block the law from taking effect on July 1.
Bryant, after the bill signing ceremony at the state Capitol, said that he is not worried about lawsuits.
"They don't have to sue us. It's up to them," Bryant said. "If they do not believe in the sanctity of life, those that are in organizations like Planned Parenthood, we will have to fight that fight. But it is worth it."
While staff attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, Hillary Schneller, in a statement on Thursday, said: "Lawmakers didn't get the message. They are determined to rob Mississippians of the right to abortion, and they are doing it at the expense of women's health and taxpayer money. This ban - just like the 15-week ban the governor signed a year ago - is cruel and clearly unconstitutional."