Mississippi House Passes Fetal Heartbeat Abortion Bill

March 12, 2019 Updated: March 12, 2019

Mississippi lawmakers continue to push ahead with a proposal that could become one of the strictest abortion laws in the nation.

The House amended and passed Senate Bill 2116 on March 11. The bill would ban most abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually at about six weeks into pregnancy. The House and Senate must work out differences in their respective bills before it moves forward to Gov. Phil Bryant.

Similar bills are being considered in other states. Conservatives want to push an abortion case to the U.S. Supreme Court to challenge the court’s 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.

Mississippi enacted a 15-week abortion ban last year, and a federal judge declared the law unconstitutional. The state has appealed that ruling.

Bryant has said he would sign the new bill into law.

Georgia and Tennessee Houses Pass Fetal Heartbeat Abortion Bill

The full Georgia House of Representatives passed a bill on March 7 to ban abortions after an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detected, a day after a state House panel approved the legislation.

The bill was passed with a vote of 93-73. The legislation will now move to the Georgia Senate.

House Bill 481 is also known as Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act.

The bill says: “Modern medical science … demonstrates that early infants in the womb are a class of living, distinct human beings that, among other individual human traits, have their own distinct blood types, organ systems, and unique fingerprints,” among other traits.

“Unborn children shall be worthy of recognition as natural persons under the laws of this State,” the legislation reads. Under the U.S. Constitution and Georgia law, no person “shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property except by due process of law” and “no person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws,” the House bill stated.

Current Georgia law allows abortions up to 20 weeks. If passed, the so-called heartbeat bill would ban abortions if a fetal heartbeat is detected.

Exceptions would be granted for situations where not getting an abortion would pose substantial and irreversible physical harm to the prospective mother or in the case of rape or incest.

The Tennessee House of Representatives also passed a similar bill on March 7.

The measure was approved 65-21 and is set to pass to the state Senate.

“Except in a medical emergency that necessitates an immediate abortion of a woman’s pregnancy to avert her death or for which a delay will create serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of major bodily function (medical emergency),” abortions will be disallowed if the physician detects the fetal heartbeat, the bill HB0077 stated.

In a July 2018 poll of 650 voters conducted by Gravis Marketing (pdf), which describes itself as a nonpartisan research firm, 51 percent of respondents said they opposed a ban on abortion in the state while 43 percent said they opposed a ban on abortions for pregnancies in the 20th week or later.

Other polls have shown more support for abortion restrictions, with 49 percent of respondents in a 2014 poll saying that abortions should be illegal in all or most cases, according to the Pew Research Forum.

Nationwide, the debate on abortion has focused to late-term abortions, fueling a shift for some Americans from pro-abortion to pro-life, according to a poll released in January.

NTD reporter Zachary Stieber and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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