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Time Running Out On Abortion Bills In Mississippi Legislature

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 02 Mar 2012 05:06pm | comments
An anti-abortion protester at a recent capitol rally.

Nearly two dozen bills focusing on how abortions are performed in Mississippi have been filed in the 2012 legislature. Lawmakers have until tomorrow to pass those bills out of committee.  MPB's Jeffrey Hess takes a closer look at those bills and what they mean for abortion in Mississippi.

About 2-thousand abortions occur in Mississippi every year, a much lower rate than the rest of the country.

Still, lawmakers have submitted a number of bills that could place new rules on abortion in the state.

Bills are being considered to require doctors to run an ultrasound and looking for a fetal heart before an abortion can be performed...neither is current law in the state.

Senator Chris McDaniel of Ellisville authored the so-called heart beat bill and says women would have to sign a waiver approving the abortion if the doctor finds a heartbeat.

"Because science has demonstrated to us that once a discernable heartbeat is heard the chances of that child growing to term are outstanding," McDaniel said.

While Mississippi has a law requiring both parents approve an abortion for a minor, a bill introduced in both chambers would require that the permission be notarized.

A bill in the state house would ban abortions after twenty weeks on the theory that a fetus can feel pain at that point.

Mississippi has one abortion clinic in Jackson and several bills have been introduced to apply new regulations to it.

Senator Joey Fillingane of Sumrall submitted bills to allow only OB-GYNs to perform abortions, and require that doctor to have admitting privileges at a local hospital.

"If it is going to be available, if it is going to be legal, then is it safe? Is it going to be performed by someone who is qualified to perform these medical surgical procedures and do they have admitting privileges in the event that something goes wrong during the procedure," Fillingane said.

Both chambers are also considering several constitutional amendments similar to the personhood amendment that Mississippi voters rejected in November....those amendments would ban abortion in the state.

If they pass the legislature, voters would again be asked to cast a ballot on the issue before the constitutional changes would take effect.


This story is part of a reporting partnership that includes MPB, NPR and Kaiser Health News


An anti-abortion protester at a recent capitol rally.



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