Abortion is back up for discussion in the legislature with the heartbeat bill. Senator Joey Fillingane said the proposed legislation would make it illegal for doctors to perform an abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected.
“If there was a fetal heartbeat detected, the mother would be told of that, would be allowed to listen to that if she wanted to and she would sign an informed consent saying the doctor has told me about this and I am aware,” Fillingane said. “The second part would be that the physician would not be able to perform the abortion after that unless it would be to save the life of the mother, or if no fetal heartbeat were detected, then they would go ahead and perform the abortion.”
He added that this would move up the timeframe to about the 7th or 8th week of the pregnancy for when an abortion can be performed in Mississippi.
During the previous legislative session, Mississippi passed a 15-week abortion ban, the most restrictive at the time, but the bill was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge. That decision is currently being appealed by the state.
“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,” said Fillingane. “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.”
If passed, Planned Parenthood will likely challenge the passage of the law. However, Fillingane said the lawsuit will ultimately go to the 5th Circuit where he believes there is a strong possibility it would be ruled constitutional.
Senator Michael Watson added that as the national debate over life has grown recently it is important for Mississippi, one of the most conservative states in the country, to stand up and fight for the right to life.
“I think what it will come down to is the science piece of it, the viability piece of it, and I think that’s were we are going to finally wind up in the Supreme Court over a challenge of the science about when a fetus is viable,” Watson said. “Life is important and the innocent life of a newborn child is something that we should fight for every day.”
Thursday is the deadline for bills to be taken up and discussed in their originating chamber. If the legislation is not brought up on the floor, the bill will automatically die.