Mississippi lawmakers have taken measures that have stirred nationwide controversy over abortion laws. States in the region, which include Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana and Arkansas, are among those with the strictest laws to curb abortion procedures.
Republican Gov. Phil Bryant made it clear on his intention “to end abortion in Mississippi” after signing legislation in 2012 that would require doctors to have admitting privilege in area hospitals, threatening the closure of the state’s only abortion clinic in Jackson. The law underwent court action and the U.S. Supreme Court would not rule on the issue in a June 2015 session, according to NBC News
Bryant also signed a bill in 2014 that banned abortions after 20 weeks gestation with exceptions for endangerment to the mother or abnormalities that would not make the fetus not viable.
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Mississippi’s restrictive measures on abortion have earned the state an F rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America
, which grades states on laws that make abortion more accessible. The F grades were also given to Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Alabama.
In contrast, states that have very few or no major restrictions on abortion have received A grades from the pro-choice organization. They include California, Maryland, and Vermont.
Mississippi requires women considering abortions to receive state-sponsored counseling, which includes information to discourage the procedure, according to the Guttmacher Institute
. Following the counseling, a woman must wait at least 24 hours before the abortion can be provided.
A proposal to extend the waiting period to 72 hours was made in 2015 by State Sen. Phillip Gandy, Mississippi Public Broadcasting reported
. Three other states, Missouri, South Dakota, and Utah, have established 72-hour waiting periods.
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Like Mississippi, Texas requires state-directed counseling at least 24 hours before an abortion, and both Mississippi and Texas require women to undergo an ultrasound in which a provider describes the image to the woman before an abortion. Both states offer public funding for abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest, according to Guttmacher. Mississippi also allows public funding in cases of fetal impairment.
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