Mississippi leaders defend ‘heartbeat’ abortion law

Published 6:45 am Thursday, April 18, 2019

The office of Mississippi’s Democratic attorney general is defending a law that bans most abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

It’s one of the strictest abortion laws in the nation. Republican Gov. Phil Bryant signed it last month, and it is set to take effect July 1.

Supporters of the law were seeking a court fight in hopes of pushing the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider its 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.

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Mississippi’s only abortion clinic is asking a federal judge to block the law. The same judge last year declared Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban unconstitutional.

In court papers this week, the attorney general’s office says Mississippi has an interest in preserving fetal life “that exists from the moment of conception.”