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Mississippi Lawmakers Consider Nearly Two Dozen Abortion Related Bills

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 23 Feb 2012 07:07pm | comments
Terri Herring addresses a crowd in the capitol.

Anti-abortion advocates in Mississippi are looking to the newly elected Republican majorities in the Mississippi legislature to put further restrictions on or outlaw abortion in the state. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports.

A group of legislators, including the governor and speaker of the house, and anti-abortion activists are pushing for tighter restrictions abortions in Mississippi.

Terri Herring with Pro Life America Network says those restrictions could reduce abortion.

"Women should not be coerced into abortions by parents, boyfriends, or husbands. Women need our support to choose life," Herring said.

Nearly two dozen bills have been introduced in the legislature aimed at changing Mississippi's abortion laws.

One bill would require women to sign a waiver acknowledging that the fetus has a heartbeat before an abortion.

Three separate bills would put new requirements on the state's only abortion clinic.

Herring says Republican majorities in both chambers means the bills should become law.

"And we can do that with our newly elected house and senate. And we are asking our people to urge their representative and senators to pass strong legislation this year to redeem the vote that erroneously somehow Mississippi is not pro-life. And that simply is not true," Herring said.

Legislators are also proposing constitutional amendments similar to the so-called 'personhood' amendment defeated by 58 percent of Mississippi voters last November.

House Judiciary B chairman Andy Gipson of Braxton has authored three such amendments all designed to outlaw abortion in the state.

"I am proud to stand for life. And the right to life in Mississippi. And the people of house district 77: Simpson, Smith and Rank county, sent me to this capitol to stand for life," Gipson declared.

But according to Democratic Representative Steve Holland of Plantersville says there is no reason the legislature should revisit the personhood debate.

"In a public referendum available to all, almost 60% of voters said not 'no', but 'hell no' on that. And it is absolutely ludicrous that we would even mention that in the halls of the capitol this year," Holland said.

While lawmakers can make many changes to state law to restrict abortions, any of the constitutional amendments that pass the legislature would also have to be approved by Mississippi voters.

This story is part of a reporting partnership with MPB, NPR and Kaiser Health News.

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Terri Herring addresses a crowd in the capitol.


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