Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed a bill into law yesterday that bans abortion 20 weeks after a woman’s last menstrual period, effectively at only 18 weeks.

“With the women and families of their state facing extreme poverty, unacceptable rates of maternal mortality, and skyrocketing teen pregnancy, Mississippi’s elected officials have more than enough real work to do to bolster women’s well-being in their state,” said Nancy Northrup, CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, in a statement. “It’s time for these politicians to stop passing laws that attack constitutionally protected women’s health care and finally focus on policies that would support the health, lives, and rights of Mississippi women and families.” 

HB 1400 includes only a narrow exception for medical emergencies or fatal fetal abnormalities, and has no exception for pregnancy by rape or incest. Physicians who break the law, which goes into effect on July 1, could lose their medical license.

Several other state legislatures have passed similar 20-week abortion bans or other anti-choice measures. Many have been blocked by the courts for unconstitutionally banning abortion before fetal viability, usually around 24 weeks. West Virginia’s governor vetoed a 20-week ban earlier this month because of legal and privacy concerns.

Media Resources: RH Reality Check 4/23/14; Times Free Press 4/23/14; Center for Reproductive Rights 4/23/14; Mississippi Legislature; Planned Parenthood Southeast 2/13/14; Feminist Newswire 5/23/13, 3/10/14, 4/2/14

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