/15-week abortion ban passes Senate committee

15-week abortion ban passes Senate committee

The Senate Public Health Committee approved Tuesday a bill to ban abortions in Mississippi after the 15th week. Mississippi’s current law prohibits abortion after 20 weeks of gestation. According to Senator Joey Fillingane (R-Sumrall), this bill moves the timeline up by five more weeks. Fillingane stated to Mississippi Today that “the United States Supreme Court…has indicated that the state has two interests when it comes down to regulating abortion.” Fillingane made these remarks to Mississippi Today after passing the bill. One is to protect the mother’s health and life. One is protecting the possibility of human life. Mississippi’s 15 week ban does not provide any exceptions for incest and rape victims. Fillingane stated that women who have been raped and/or the victims of incest seldom need those protections when presenting the bill. You don’t necessarily need it in cases where rape or incest are involved. Fillingane stated that those cases are very common. Fillingane explained that these victims sought abortions faster than those who were pregnant by consensual sex. “You know instantly that you have been a victim of rape, or incest,” he said. But abortion rights advocates claim the reverse. Felicia Brown Williams, Planned Parenthood Southeast’s director of public policy, said that those who have been victims of abusers might need more grace. She argued that victims of incest and rape often report incidents later. Fillingane denied that he had seen the evidence. However, this dispute highlights the main concern of abortion rights advocates with the bill. Shortening the legal window to allow abortions would make it almost impossible for many people to access abortions, especially in rural Mississippi. Mississippi only currently has one abortion clinic, located in Jackson. Women must also wait at least 24 hours before they can have an abortion. Williams stated that if there are restrictions on accessing one provider, it can have a significant impact on rural women’s access. The country’s abortion policy is in a kind of limbo. Recent court decisions have delicately balanced between protecting the lives of viable fetuses while not restricting access for women who require it. While a few other states have passed 20-week bans as well, no other state has approved any more restrictive policies. Advocates for abortion rights have not challenged any of the 20-week bans in court. Fillingane states that 20 weeks is the most likely time a fetus can be viable due to medical advances. The Supreme Court ruled that abortion should not be legalized until the fetus is viable in the landmark Roe V. Wade decision. Fillingane said that although no fetus survived outside of the womb after 15 weeks, it doesn’t seem so unlikely. “Abortion is an area where technology is driving the debate. Religion is also important and drives it. Fillingane stated that technology has “pushed the timeline further and farther (up).” Chairman of the Mississippi Advisory Council on Faith Based Initiatives Ron Matis said he agree with Fillingane that science is driving a debate that has for a long time found its strongest support from faith communities. Matis stated that he was glad to see scientists recognizing the importance of faith in protecting human life. Fillingane said that a legal challenge could be brought against the Mississippi ban, but he believes the law can withstand it. Fillingane stated that if this bill were to become law it would take the challenges two to three years for them to reach the Supreme Court. Roll call was not conducted after the vote. However, the voices against the bill were quieter than those who voted for it. Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves gave praise to the committee’s Tuesday action in a statement that suggested he would support legislation on the Senate floor. Reeves stated, echoing Gov. After the bill was passed by the House earlier in the month, Phil Bryant made some comments. To support this important work, you can make a regular donation to the Spring Member Drive today.