How would Mississippi’s trigger law work if SCOTUS overturns Roe v. Wade?

Published: May. 4, 2022 at 9:32 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi is one of 13 states with what’s known as trigger laws. That means if and when Roe v. Wade is overturned, abortion access will almost immediately be banned.

Mississippi put its version of a trigger law on the books in 2007 with a bill authored by Sen. Joey Fillingane. It’s not an automatic. It includes a certification step from the Attorney General within 10 days of a court decision.

“It’s no decision making authority involved in that certification process, it’s just a legality,” explained Sen. Fillingane. “She would have a period to certify that, in fact, the opinion has been issued, that it is been filed in the court clerk’s office, and that is now the law of the land.”

Fillingane says it was a backstop to avoid rushing back for a vote if the court ruled down the road.

“The idea is that we’re only in session 90 days out of the year, typically the first quarter of the year,” he explained. “And typically, the Supreme Court decisions of this magnitude are typically handed down, and the end of June... we wouldn’t be in session again for another half a year.”

There are two exceptions in that law, rape when there’s a formal charge and protection of the life of the mother. But…

“There won’t be a place for anybody to say, ‘Oh, I’m going to use the exception to go down to the clinic,’” said Fillingane, when referencing the rape exception in particular. “The clinic is not going to be there.”

In addition to the trigger law states, several others have significant restrictions short of a ban. Of note, Florida’s law will change July 1 to include a 24-hour waiting period and 15 week ban. So…

“What that means for Mississippians is the nearest clinic outside of Florida if you are over 15 weeks means that you will have to travel the closest clinic will be in Granite City, Illinois,” said Michelle Colon, Executive Director and Co-Founder of SHERo Mississippi. “That is a city or suburb on the other side of the line of St. Louis.”

Groups like SHERo Mississippi are working on organizing the resources necessary for reaching those out of state locations.

“The obstacle is, you know, having to travel seven hours from Jackson,” noted Colon. “That’s a seven hour drive from Jackson. If you are someone who lives on the coast, that’s a 10-hour drive. And that’s still unacceptable for Mississippians to have to, you know, drive anywhere over an hour to get medical care because abortion is essential medical, medical care, health care.”

Sen. Fillingane notes that exceptions where they are saving the life of the mother are likely taking place in hospital settings rather than the clinic anyway. And the legislature believed it was important to keep that exception.

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