House & Senate pass heartbeat abortion bans

Both the House and the Senate have passed bills to ban abortions in the state after a heartbeat is detected.

The bills (SB 2116 & HB 732) would prohibit an abortion in Mississippi as soon as a fetus has a detectable heartbeat, and an exception would only be made if the mother’s life was at risk.

After the Senate passed the bill with a 39-13 final vote, Lt. Governor Tate Reeves commended the body and said that the unborn must be protected. 

“A beating heart means life has begun and should be protected,” Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said. “This bill is another step in our work to make Mississippi the safest place in America for an unborn child.” 

After the bill passed through the committee stage, Reeves called the practice of abortion “barbaric.”

According to the American Pregnancy Association, a heartbeat can typically be detected six weeks into a woman’s pregnancy.

In the House, the bill passed with an 81-36 final vote. Lengthy debates took place in both chambers with some lawmakers, including Senator Deborah Dawkins, arguing that women may not even know they’re are pregnant at six weeks.

Similar bills have been introduced and passed across the country, but all have been struck down by federal courts. Last year, a 15-week abortion ban was passed by the Legislature, and it was deemed “unconstitutional”. The state is currently appealing that decision to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. 

“Several other states have also done a fetal heartbeat bill, Arkansas, North Dakota, and Iowa and all of those have been stayed by the 8th Circuit which is right next door to our 5th Circuit Court,” Senator Joey Fillingane said. “It would be interesting to see what happens because the 5th Circuit is considered by most legal scholars as the most conservative circuit in the nation and they allowed the Louisiana 20 week bill to stand.”

Governor Bryant has supported these bills, and after they were passed, he stated that he looks forward to signing the bills into law.

Currently, only one abortion clinic remains in Mississippi.