In an obvious effort to over-police women’s bodies, last week Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed SB2116, which prohibits abortion of an unborn individual after a fetal heartbeat has been detected, unless at risk of serious harm or death to the mother. A fetal heartbeat can begin as early as six weeks, which is before many women learn they are pregnant. Senate Bill 2116 follows an effort from 2018 to ban abortions after 15 weeks. District Judge Carlton W. Reeves swiftly ruled that law unconstitutional.
Gov. Bryant took to Twitter to comment on his signing of the bill. “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 threat of legal action.’”
Already, legal action is mounting against the bill, which is scheduled to take effect July 1. The Center for Reproductive Rights released a statement on the governor’s decision to sign the bill, ensuring the organization will sue Bryant and the state if the bill goes into effect.
“Just months ago in a case we filed on behalf of Mississippi’s only abortion clinic—Jackson Women’s Health Organization—a federal court struck down Mississippi’s attempt to ban abortion after 15 weeks, calling it a waste of taxpayer money and a transparent attack on women’s health. This new prohibition, at an even earlier stage of pregnancy, is blatantly unconstitutional and we have called on Governor Bryant to veto it. If he does not, we are ready to take Mississippi to court to protect all women in the state.”
The ACLU of Mississippi also released a statement, although the organization has not confirmed if it will seek a legal battle with the state. Executive Director Jennifer Riley-Collins says, “It is not the government’s place to dictate belief. In fact, this is not about personal beliefs at all. This is about legal access to a medical procedure, and our elected leaders should not callously insert themselves into a family’s private reproductive decision-making. We ask that our state leaders focus on helping Mississippi families, rather than wasting more time and resources on this unconstitutional crusade against reproductive freedom.”
Lest you think it’s just the Magnolia State, Mississippi isn’t the first state this year to propose legislation that restricts access to abortion. Georgia’s House Bill 481 passed through the Senate last week, and now one last vote stands between the bill heading to Gov. Brian Kemp. Lawmakers in 11 states, including North Carolina, Missouri, and Tennessee have also brought “Heartbeat Bills” up for debate, but many have been blocked or determined to be potentially unconstitutional.
Banning abortions after six weeks not only infringes upon a woman’s right to choose, but it sets up women and their families for unnecessary struggles if they aren’t able to afford a child, have access to healthcare or Medicaid for their kid, or even have teachers with enough resources to adequately educate them. Reproductive justice for all? We all know the answer to that.