Gov. Bryant signs abortion bill

Published: Apr. 16, 2012 at 2:16 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 9, 2017 at 12:08 AM CST
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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) - Mississippi's governor makes good on a campaign promise by signing legislation to put more restrictions on doctors working at the state's only abortion clinic.

While the measure received cheers from pro-lifers, the pro-choice movement sees it as an attack on women's health care and constitutional rights.

A baby babbled in the background of the Ceremonial Room at the State Capitol as Governor Phil Bryant signed a bill that puts new restrictions on physicians performing abortions in the state.

He was surrounded by pro-life supporters, physicians, the lieutenant governor and lawmakers while fulfilling a pro-life agenda.

"I think it's historic. Today you see the first step in a movement I believe to do what we campaigned on to say we're going to try and end abortion in Mississippi," said Governor Bryant.

State Representative Sam Mims, Chairman of the Public Health and Human Services Committee, was the sole author of the bill.

"It shows you that the Mississippi House and the Mississippi Senate we are pro-life, and we believe that life begins at conception. So if this legislation reduces the number of abortions in Mississippi we believe it is a positive result," said Rep. Mims (R).

House Bill 1390 requires that doctors terminating pregnancies be board certified Ob-Gyns with admitting privileges at a local hospital.

Doctors who perform fewer than 10 abortions a month or fewer than 100 a year, aren't required to have their offices regulated as abortion facilities.

WAR or Women Are Representing Mississippi opposes the bill.

The women's advocacy group said restricting access to the clinic won't improve women's health.

"Our fear is that it will go back to the days before Roe when women are using very very scary means, coat hangers, things people have heard of, herbal abortions. Those kinds of things that are unsafe and that kill women," said Lauri Roberts, a mother of seven, with WAR.

The Jackson Women's Health Organization is located in Jackson is the only clinic performing abortions in the state.

Owner Diane Derzis said physicians at the clinic are Ob-Gyns, but only one of the three has hospital privileges.

Derzis said the clinic will try to comply with the new regulations, but if it can't, she will file a lawsuit.

"It's good common sense, but it's also legal. We've had great attorneys working in the house and senate, so we believe we will prevail against any lawsuit," said Bryant.

"They would try to either file a lawsuit or get amended privileges and if they don't then it closes, and again I think that's good for Mississippi," said Mims.

"It's a waste of our money as taxpayers to defend something that's constitutionally protected," added Roberts.

"We condemn Governor Bryant for signing this extreme measure. The governor has expressed that his support for this bill is based on a desire to protect women. Yet he has stated repeatedly that will continue to work to make Mississippi 'abortion free' and HB 1390 is an intentional back-door ban on abortion," said Planned Parenthood Southeast President/CEO Kay Scott.

The law goes into effect July 1st.

Copyright 2012 WLBT. All rights reserved.