Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant has signed a bill banning a common second trimester abortion method, dilation and evacuation. The bill leaves just a sliver of a loophole, allowing the procedure only to prevent “irreversible physical impairment.” Mississippi has only one abortion clinic, who are quite likely to sue over this.
The bill, HB 519, was creatively termed the “Mississippi Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act.” It only allows for D&E’s in the event of a “serious health risk:”
“Serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother” 72 means that in reasonable medical judgment, she has a condition that so complicates her medical condition that it necessitates the abortion of her pregnancy to avert her death or to avert serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, not including psychological or emotional conditions. No such condition may be determined to exist if it is based on a claim or diagnosis that the woman will engage in conduct that she intends to result in her death or in substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.
Dilation and evacuation is used in roughly 95% of second trimester abortions and following miscarriages; banning the procedure amounts to a near-total ban on abortions after 14 weeks. The bill is identical, as Rewire points out, to the model legislation written by the National Right to Life Committee. As you can imagine, they’re delighted:
But D&E bans have been struck down by state courts in Kansas and Oklahoma; one passed in West Virginia in March only after the legislature overrode the governor’s veto.
The last remaining abortion clinic in Mississippi is Jackson Women’s Health, also known as “the Little Pink House.” Owner Diane Derzis told WKRG the state is inviting a lawsuit.
Jackson Women’s Health in 2013. Photo via AP