Mississippi’s strict abortion laws have led to continuous debates over such issues as requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. The law has been the subject of court action since it was passed by the state legislature in 2012, and it threatened to shut down the operation of the state’s only licensed abortion clinic.
Upon signing the bill in 2012, Republican Gov. Phil Bryant said, “my goal is to end abortion in Mississippi,” CBS reported
. The U.S. Supreme Court took no action on the dispute in June 2015, leaving Jackson Women’s Health Organization still operating.
In 2014, Bryant signed legislation that banned abortions in Mississippi after 20 weeks gestation. Exceptions are made for endangerment to the mother or fetal abnormalities.
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“Today is an important day for protecting the unborn and the health and safety of women in Mississippi,” Bryant said. “Medical research shows that an unborn child can feel pain by not later than 20 weeks gestation, and research also shows that the risk of death and complications from an abortion increases significantly as a pregnancy progresses.”
Democratic State Sen. Debbie Dawkins said, “This is about removing the rights of women without means, whether anybody here is willing to admit it or not,” according to RT News
“With the women and families of their state facing extreme poverty, unacceptable rates of maternal mortality, and skyrocketing teen pregnancy, Mississippi’s elected officials have more than enough real work to do to bolster women’s well-being in their state,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York, according to The Huffington Post
But Charmaine Yoest, president and CEO of Americans United for Life, responded: “We know that with each passing week of pregnancy, the health risks of abortion increase. I commend the leadership in Mississippi who worked together to achieve common sense limits on dangerous abortion procedures.”
State Sen. Phillip Gandy proposed extended waiting periods for abortion in Mississippi from 24 hours to 72 hours.
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“I think a life and death issue and something that has the potential to affect the emotional well-being of the mother is something that needs some thought and some time,” Gandy said, Mississippi Public Broadcasting reported
Dawkins said: “We are not qualified to make those medical decisions. And we are not qualified to come between a woman and her physicians and whatever is best for her.”
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