Mississippi governor Phil Bryant signed a so-called “heartbeat bill” into law on Thursday that would ban abortions once doctors are able to detect a fetal heartbeat — effectively outlawing the procedure as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. Reproductive rights activists have decried the bill as a flagrant violation of Roe v. Wade. In some cases, they say, heartbeat bills would bar women’s access to abortion before they even realized they were pregnant.
“This ban is one of the most restrictive abortion bans signed into law, and we will take Mississippi to court to make sure it never takes effect,” said Hillary Schneller, staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights.
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican and a candidate to succeed Mr. Bryant, said that Mississippi would be unafraid to spend money to defend the law, which the Senate approved without debate on Tuesday.
“There have been threats of lawsuits, and I’m sure that’s going to happen, and that’s O.K.,” Mr. Reeves said. “I will put my record of fiscal responsibility up against anyone in this building today, and anyone that’s has ever stood in this building before, and I have absolutely no problem supporting strongly whatever it costs to defend this lawsuit because I care about unborn children.”
While fetal heartbeat proposals are not new, momentum around them has grown significantly during this year’s legislative sessions in Republican-controlled state capitals.
The measures clash with Supreme Court decisions that have recognized a woman’s right to an abortion until a fetus is viable outside the womb, usually around 24 weeks into pregnancy. And opponents of abortion say that is part of the intent: To land a new case before the current Supreme Court in hopes of setting sharper limits or even an outright ban. The confirmation of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh — and the potential shifting of the court’s direction — has provoked new urgency among critics of abortion.
“I would be proud if it’s Kentucky that takes it all the way up to the Supreme Court and we challenge Roe v. Wade,” Damon Thayer, the Republican majority leader of the Kentucky Senate, told reporters in January as state lawmakers considered a fetal heartbeat measure. “That would be absolutely the pinnacle of my career in the Legislature.”
Florida, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas are among the states expected to approve fetal heartbeat measures this year.
In Georgia, where the House approved such a bill this month, the issue stirred a personal and passionate debate.
“A child in the womb should be worthy of full legal protection,” said Representative Ed Setzler, a Republican who sponsored the measure, which has already won the backing of Gov. Brian Kemp.
Representative Erica Thomas, a Democrat, disagreed.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Muslim World Today.