National Partnership for Women & Families

In the News

Miss. gov. signs bill banning medically proven method of abortion

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) on Friday signed a bill (HB 519) that would ban a medically proven abortion procedure, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports.

According to the AP/Bee, lawmakers in Mississippi also are considering a bill (SB 2238) that would strip Planned Parenthood of Medicaid family planning funding (Amy, AP/Sacramento Bee, 4/15).

Law details

HB 519, sponsored by state Rep. Sam Mims (R), would ban a medically proven method of abortion unless it is used to prevent a "serious health risk" to the pregnant woman. The measure defines a serious health risk as one that requires an abortion "to avert [the woman's] death or to avert serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment."

A physician who violates the ban would be guilty of a felony, punishable by up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Mississippi is among several states that have introduced such a ban. Courts have blocked similar measures in Kansas and Oklahoma. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, the bans are unconstitutional because they impede private medical decisions (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/6).

Comments

Abortion-rights supporters have said the measure could force physicians to resort to an alternative abortion procedure that takes longer and entails a greater risk for the woman.

Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said, "This bill is not based in medicine." She added, "Governor Bryant just signed a clear attack on women's health care as part of a plan to ban abortion across the board. Planned Parenthood will continue to fight to protect the rights of our patients and their access to safe medical care, no matter what."

Separately, Diane Derzis -- owner of Jackson Women's Health Organization (JWHO), the sole abortion clinic in the state -- said her clinic infrequently uses the procedure banned by the new law. According to Derzis, JWHO provides abortion care through 15 weeks of pregnancy (AP/Sacramento Bee, 4/15).