Governor signs fetal heartbeat bill into law

Gov Bryant signs heartbeat bill

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Governor Phil Bryant signed the fetal heartbeat bill into law Thursday morning..

The law will prohibit most abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected -- about six weeks into pregnancy.

According to the law, physicians who performs an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected could face revocation of his or her medical license. Abortions will be allowed after a fetal heartbeat is found if a pregnancy endangers a woman’s life or one of her major bodily functions.

The House and Senate both rejected efforts to allow exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest.

Governor Bryant knew that his signature on the fetal heartbeat bill puts Mississippi among the ranks of the most restrictive abortion bans in the country. And legislative leaders know the passage of the legislation opens the door to a repeat court challenge.

“I have absolutely no problem supporting strongly whatever it costs to defend this lawsuit because I care about unborn children,” said Lt. Governor Tate Reeves.

“We believe that it cannot be denied that once a heartbeat is detected that there is a life growing within the womb,” noted Speaker Philip Gunn.

It’s important to note that the law isn’t set to take effect immediately. It specifies the effective date as July 1. But it’s expected that the court battle will begin before that time.

“They don’t have to sue us," said Governor Phil Bryant. "It’s up to them. If they do not believe in the sanctity of life, those that are in organizations like Planned Parenthood, we will have to fight that fight. But it is worth it.”

The Center for Reproductive Rights says the ban, like last year’s 15-week ban, is unconstitutional and they plan to sue the state to make sure it never takes effect.

“This ban is one of the most restrictive abortion bans signed into law, and we will take Mississippi to court to make sure it never takes effect. A judge struck down the state’s 15-week ban just months ago, but lawmakers didn’t get the message. They are determined to rob Mississippians of the right to abortion, and they are doing it at the expense of women’s health and taxpayer money. This ban—just like the 15 week ban the Governor signed a year ago—is cruel and clearly unconstitutional.”
Hillary Schneller, staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights

But Senator Joey Fillingane has faith the bill could still survive a court battle.

“I think we reside in Mississippi in the most conservative circuit court district in the country, that being the 5th circuit," said Fillingane. "So, if this bill has the chance in any of the lower circuit of being upheld, I think certainly the 5th circuit is the place you want to be.” The Center for Reproductive Rights hasn’t given a date for when they expect to file the legal challenge but will do so before July 1.

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