UPDATE AT 5 P.M. EASTERN ON MARCH 21: Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant officially signed the bill on Thursday, Fox News reported.
Abortion has become front-and-center in our nation again after New York lessened restrictions on abortion and embattled Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam defended a bill that would allow unwanted babies to die after birth.
Abortions in the U.S. have been slowly but steadily decreasing, according to data from 2017, Abort73.com reported. But with hundreds of thousands of babies still being killed in the womb, the difficult topic needs to continue to be front-and-center.
The Mississippi Senate has certainly brought attention to it by voting on a bill that could ban abortions as early as six weeks into the pregnancy, the Clarion-Ledger reported. The bill passed, and Republican Gov. Phil Bryant is expected to sign it.
“I’ve often said I want Mississippi to be the safest place for an unborn child in America,” he tweeted earlier in the day. “I appreciate the leadership of the MS House and Senate, along with members of the Legislature, for passing the fetal heartbeat bills today. I look forward to signing this act upon passage.”
The bill’s six-weeks time period is based on when an unborn baby’s heartbeat can first be detected. The proposed legislation (SB-2116), nicknamed the Heartbeat Bill, does allow abortion after six weeks in order “to prevent the death of a pregnant woman or to prevent a serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.”
The bill does still protect the life of an unborn child conceived in rape or incest.
The type of ultrasound used to find the baby’s heartbeat is invasive, but Sen. Angela Hill (R-Picayune) said, "We can see more of what's happening in the womb…. We can see that heart beating with those tests, and I've had those tests, and they're not so bad."
She added, "I see in this country that we protect sea turtle eggs and we protect other endangered species of animals with a greater degree of scrutiny and zealousness than we protect a child in the womb that has a beating heart. The womb should be the safest place in the world for an unborn child."
“A beating heart means life has begun and should be protected,” commented Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, WLOX reported.
The state of Mississippi has just one abortion clinic.
The legislature’s decision, if signed into law, may affect the state’s position on the Americans United for Life’s ranking of the most pro-life states. As of Jan. 10, Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas, South Dakota, and Mississippi rank first through seventh, respectively, according to Family Council. Vermont, California, and the state of Washington are 48th, 49th, and 50th, respectively.