Bryant says he’ll sign ‘heartbeat’ abortion ban, not worried about likely legal challenges

Published 8:37 am Thursday, March 21, 2019

Gov. Phil Bryant says he’s not worried about lawsuits as Mississippi prepares to enact one of the strictest abortion laws in the nation.

The Republican governor is scheduled to sign a bill Thursday to outlaw most abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, about six weeks into pregnancy.

The New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights calls it “blatantly unconstitutional” and says it will sue Mississippi to try to block the law from taking effect on July 1.

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Mississippi is one of several states considering similar bills this year. Abortion opponents are emboldened by new conservatives on the Supreme Court and are seeking cases to challenge the court’s 1973 ruling the legalized abortion nationwide.

“The term ‘heartbeat bill’ is a manipulative misnomer,” the center tweeted. “These bills actually rob women of their choice to have an abortion before they even know they’re pregnant.”

Bryant tweeted in response: “We will all answer to the good Lord one day. I will say in this instance, ‘I fought for the lives of innocent babies, even under the threat of legal action.'”

The Mississippi bill says a physician who performs an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected could face revocation of his or her medical license.

The bill also says abortions could 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.

Georgia and Tennessee are among the states considering similar bills. Kentucky’s law was immediately challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union when Republican Gov. Matt Bevin on March 14, and a federal judge has temporarily blocked it.